The MHR must play in Bordeaux on Sunday afternoon if the Covid tests, carried out this Thursday at the UBB, are negative. A match initially scheduled for Friday. And if the match cannot be played by the end of the week, it will already be the fifth postponement (Toulon, scheduled for May 11, Lyon, Castres and the Stade Français) for the MHR since the start of the season. And the schedule for the end of the season, with the European Cup, will be a real headache for Philippe Saint-André’s men. The Montpellier manager is afraid that a computer will decide the fate of his club.
How do you prepare for a match that you are not sure you will play?
Tuesday morning, the match was to be canceled. Tuesday afternoon, we had a chance to play it. We learned the kick-off schedule last night at 10 p.m. We are in a particular atypical season. This is our fifth game canceled or postponed. We have to be pragmatic and adapt. What is a shame is that we were on a good dynamic, five wins in a row and six wins over the last seven matches. We are still in the battle to avoid 13th place All the matches are important even if the atmosphere is more serene, confidence is back but we should not take ourselves for others. We need a lot of points to secure our place in the Top 14.
Given the complexity of the end of the season in terms of the calendar, you did everything to be able to play this match?
We need to play it because if the match is ever postponed and we reach the final of the European challenge, we will have to play six matches in four weeks and it will be very complicated. There may be a real traffic jam in our schedule.
This situation seems unfair compared to other teams, are you annoyed?
We are at the 20th day and we had a third of the matches postponed or canceled. We risk playing La Rochelle on Saturday, Toulon on Tuesday and Stade Français on Saturday. We can play our season over three matches in a week, I don’t see much sporting equity in relation to that. But we will do everything to get by. It’s a funny season, atypical. We lost in Bayonne after only collective training. We had lost in Bayonne without a defensive bonus and we had recovered six injured.
Do you have a solution to restore fairness, a larger championship?
There are huge sporting or financial issues. The English championship was pragmatic. No descent and passage from a Top 12 to a Top 14. Why not a Top 15 in France with only one descent and two climbs. We hope that next year there will be an audience. With one more match, it will generate more money, more revenue, more people in the stadiums. People will enjoy coming to the stadium again. But contractually I don’t know if it’s possible.
And if you can’t play your matches, how will the end of the season be calculated?
We need sporting equity, if we have to play six matches in four weeks and stay in the Top 14, it’s difficult. But after perhaps we will not be able to play the six matches and suddenly, the League will have recourse to equalization. Our missing matches will enter a computer and they will tell us the number of points we will deserve. Playing your season on an arithmetic calculation is a bit special.
To avoid this situation, it would be enough to lose in the European Cup?
What is not normal is that the teams that play the game in the European Cup are penalized. I asked the players the question, they had a complicated difficult season. They wanted to play this competition thoroughly. We are in the semi and if we win this competition, we are qualified in the big European Cup. I can’t tell the players, next week we don’t want Bath because it’s not possible. Sportingly, we cannot say we do not play it especially that they want to play it.