Pro D2 – Benoît August (Dax): “I have the impression that the players are still hungry”

Pro D2 – Benoît August (Dax): “I have the impression that the players are still hungry”
Pro D2 – Benoît August (Dax): “I have the impression that the players are still hungry”

While Dax is having an extraordinary season, the sporting director of the Landes club, Benoît August, talks about the race for qualification in which his team is immersed, the reception at Agen this Friday evening, and the tribute which will be paid this week -end, to several executives of the workforce who will leave the USD.

What is the key word before this reception in Agen?
As Jeff Dubois said, once maintenance was acquired, the rest was up to the players. They continue to write their story at the end of the season. […] Given where we come from, we fear every match, but the staff continued with their squad rotation. Perhaps that’s also how we got here. This match will be taken very seriously, especially as there should be a lot of people at the stadium.

Have the players switched to final phase mode, even if it has not yet started?
Once maintenance was achieved, there was a very small unknown: knowing how the group would react. Was there going to be any relaxation because the objective had been achieved? Was the desire of the players going to be increased tenfold? We got the answer very quickly… I don’t know if they’re in endgame mode now, but they know there’s something beautiful to look for.

Have behaviors changed since the qualification became available to you?
No, there have been no changes. There has been continuity throughout the season, with application and compliance with instructions.

Do you feel, perhaps, a little more excitement?
Not particularly, no. There, we are not preparing a final phase match. The majority of the group experienced this last season in National. They know it has a specific scent, but for now, they’ve been on the same course since the start of the season.

Against Agen, several veterans will possibly play their last match at Maurice Boyau. What can you tell us about them?
They played an important role for several seasons. There are a few that have arrived a while ago. They were extremely important in terms of behavior. They were professional. Among those who are leaving us, there are quite a few foreigners who have worked to integrate the new arrivals. I am thinking, in particular, of Ratu Nacika or Jope Naseara. The elders have a lot to do with their development.

Are you referring here to the contribution of a player like Ilikena Bolakoro?
Bola, Lévi, Asa… These are boys who are very involved in group life. They pay attention to others and are proactive. They had an important role off the field.

Even if the USD is not, to date, qualified, are you already planning for the future?
Obviously, all scenarios are considered, both at the sporting and administrative level. We have to anticipate, otherwise we will quickly be caught off guard. By force of circumstances, we received an email from the League with the specifications relating to the final phases. I think they don’t send it to all the clubs (smile).

For you, when did the team really take a turn in the race for qualification?
The message from the staff has always been based on maintaining. It wasn’t just talk. We knew where we came from, the means we had and what we wanted. Once maintenance was mathematically acquired, the group switched.

Maintenance was only officially ensured very late. Have you never dreamed of a final phase before?
We had no right to dream of a sequel to that. We really had to maintain it, even if we can’t stop the players from trying to see a little further and the appetite comes with eating. I have the impression that they are still hungry.

To what extent is the notion of pleasure present, now that you have had a successful season?
To attend all the talks given by Jeff and his staff, the word pleasure comes up very regularly. Pleasure can be found everywhere. Not necessarily only in victory, even if it is increased tenfold when it is there. The staff placed a lot of emphasis on playing without the ball. It’s not necessarily the most appetizing in the world of rugby, but he managed to instill that in the players. The pleasure is surely increased tenfold at the end of the season, but it has been a key word throughout the season.

We have often said that your season was completely crazy and that seeing USD play in the qualifier was unthinkable ten months ago…
Ten months ago or even, for my part, a few years ago… The staff managed to bring this team up and give a revival to the club, in Pro D2. We were lucky to still have a chance to get back into the professional world. It was done in an exceptional sporting manner. In the management and development of the club, too, I think we have not missed the boat. At the start of the season, it was unthinkable to think that with two days remaining, we might be fighting for a play-off at home. For the record, when we opened the calendar, we saw that the last three matches were Mont-de-Marsan, Agen and Nevers. We then hoped to be maintained, before.

You mention Dax’s return to the professional world. Was this, in your opinion, the last chance?
I think yes. Sportingly, it was a godsend, something remarkable. Around the corner, the arrival of new investors meant that we were already able to access Pro D2 and develop the club in this professional world, which is evolving at a fairly incredible speed.

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