As of Wednesday, Hans-Peter Wild, rushed back to the head of his club, agreed to meet the Olympic Midi, at the origin of the revelation of the probable arrival of Laurent Labit and Karim Ghezal. On Saturday afternoon, he gave us an hour of occasional maintenance.
How did you react when you learned, at the Midi Olympique on Sunday night, that Laurent Labit and Karim Ghezal would be joining Stade Français in a few weeks?
I do not care. I shut up. You write what you want. I have other things to do besides commenting on speculation.
Did you fear that this announcement could destabilize the team?
Nope. […] I came to Jean Bouin a few days ago. I caught up with Gonzalo Quesada, Thomas Lombard, Morgan Parra, Paul Gustard and Kobus Potgieter (assistant coach, editor’s note) to clear things up. So I left.
What did you tell them or what did you learn?
Gonzalo remains in charge until the end of the season and then he will leave the club. We agreed on that. If Laurent Labit and Karim Ghezal commit to us, I would be delighted because it will be a way to raise the level of professionalism in the French stadium. What have we achieved in five years? (answers in French) “Not much…” We injected tons of money and we didn’t earn anything.
Did you learn from that?
Yes: you can’t buy success, it’s not possible. Rugby is a group dynamic. When Heyneke Meyer signed with us, he told me: “players play for their coach”. The current players also play in Gonzalo and they demonstrated this on Saturday against Perpignan. […] Gonzalo Quesada knows better than me which players to select. It is his decision. He took it with his guts, with his sensitivity.
Since then ?
All this to say that the interview with Gonzalo went well last week and that in the process, Morgan Parra told me: “professional players will never put aside what they are here: they will play rugby and defend the jersey, their employer. That’s it.” that’s it “. The rest is blah blah blah…
Yes ! A few years ago I met several former players of the club at Bristol (the hotel where he stayed during his visits to Paris, N.DL.R.). They told me: “We don’t give a fuck about the coach. But we are the ones running the game.” They are right. […] When I arrived in 2017, we were wrong. Fabien Grobon (the former CEO) knew nothing. Hubert Patricot, my lifelong friend, knew little else, though he was on a whole new level. The problem is that he wasn’t there often. They called him “the ghost” in the club. What did we do at that time?
Clever. Heyneke did not speak French; he had a translator. Then Thomas Lombard told me that he hire Gonzalo Quesada, a very smart guy who I adore. These two worked together but also experienced friction when the results weren’t there. According to Gonzalo Thomas Lombard, he invested too much in the athlete and for him it was not his role. But their relationship has improved lately. They exchange more. Oh well…
Nothing better happened. We had a “French-style” meeting last spring. We talked a lot but it didn’t lead to anything. I say “French style” because we had to go from A to B but instead we went through C, D, G, Z. We never got to B but we all went to eat together… That’s all… A la française, what… (sighs) When you say something, in the business world, I take it for granted. In rugby, this is never the case.
Did Gonzalo Quesada then ask you to have full responsibility for the sports sector?
Yes. And I agreed on this point. He was the coach and he had to decide freely, at the same time substantive work was done to revitalize the training sessions and once again we are recruiting international youth players who can now join the professional squad. Before, there was no osmosis between the professionals and the academy, from which eight players recently graduated.
Do you have the feeling that things are progressing?
I recently read that the Stade Français was on life support. That’s fair enough. With Max (Guazzini, N.DL.R.), it was a party, they filled stadiums but they weren’t professionals. Then Thomas Savare gave a little money but did not professionalize the club. We try to do it, even if we don’t win yet. Maybe we made the players too comfortable…
The players are well paid no matter what happens on the field and if there is even the slightest deficit, the owner (he, N.DL.R.) will make up for it. What a wonderful world, right?
Gonzalo Quesada has a contract until 2024. How are you going to fire him at the end of this season?
You will be paid until 2024, simple as that. And he will probably become the national team manager.
Don’t you think that Gonzalo Quesada will demobilize under these conditions?
No. I trust him. (pauses) Gonzalo Quesada knows rugby better than me. I repeat that the players follow him.
So why did you extend the contracts of Gonzalo, Julien Arias and Laurent Sempere for one season before the start of this season?
To align all trainers in the same duration. Then the opportunity arose to have Laurent Labit and Karim Ghezal. They are two great coaches and if they join us I would be very happy.
There is no reason for Laurent Labit and Karim Ghezal not to come: your project attracts them, their profiles attract you…
We still have many details to work out and the focus must remain on the upcoming Rugby World Cup.
What will happen to Laurent Sempere and Julien Arias?
If a new sporting director arrives, discussions will take place to form a staff. I am very grateful to Laurent and Julien, who helped us a lot when the club was in troubled waters after Heyneke Meyer left. […] Don’t worry, I don’t usually mistreat people. “There will be no worries.”
The same for Paul Gustard and Kobus Potgieter?
Yes. But give us time to make things in order. Nothing signed yet, I’ll call you back. Laurent Labit and Karim Ghezal must first win the World Cup. It is a great responsibility for them. Don’t bother them with that kind of thing…
According to our information, Gonzalo Quesada has apparently lost the confidence of part of his wardrobe. What do you know?
You are wrong. He may have lost the players who are not starters. But it’s the same in all the clubs in the world… Those who don’t play are disappointed. […] I think we have a good team and we will show it.
Do you think players can really be honest with you? You are his boss, after all…
I don’t talk much with them. I ask them if everything is okay when I pass them by; I check if they are sharp or not, too big or not… I observe the attitudes in the dressing room and the moments that I can spend with the team. The players express themselves above all on the pitch, through the performances they must carry out when they have the opportunity to wear the club shirt.
Are you satisfied with the recruitment in recent years?
In general, yes. The people who arrived have the right mood. I am proud of the behavior and character of these players. Before we had to deal with a lot of shit, pardon the expression, in the club. […] But to be honest, I am still very angry because we lost the only German player we had at the club (Oskar Rixen). He went to Brive and played some good games there! But I didn’t know when he left.
Paul Alo-Emile will continue to be absent for many months due to severe depression. What are you going to do ?
We can recruit a prankster. But above all we need to help Paul on a day-to-day basis. […] It’s a medical case. The hospital can’t tell us much about Paul Alo-Emile and we respect that.
Would you release Paul Alo-Emile from his contract if he asks you to?
I don’t know. But before considering such an extreme result, we will do our best to improve it.
What have you learned in five years of presidency?
It’s a difficult job… At first I didn’t understand rugby. I didn’t understand the dynamic. But I have learned now. […] I know that no club owner is completely happy. Recently, I went to see my friend the president of the Hoffenheim club. He put hundreds of millions of euros into the club and Hoffenheim lost that day against a promoted club. My friend was mad with rage after the game. He got angry with his coach: “Why didn’t he play such and such? Or so and so? The coach is right when he wins and wrong when he loses. It’s that easy.