“Shaun will not give up anything on his players”, assured Nicolas Nadau, coach of Grenoble
From 2019 to 2021, Nadau was the main coach and the Biarritz back lines before leaving the club enjoying the victory in the play-off against Bayonne (6-6, 6-5 pens), which was synonymous with climbing to the Top 14 .He then joined FCG, with whom he was associated, for another venture.
For players, matches against their former club are always special. Is it the same with coaches?
A bit like that, yes. Dealing with the soundtrack, it’s special because there are so many memories about what we experienced together. It will be an overwhelming emotion. I am very happy and proud to find them. Having said that, we also need to quickly move on to us, our team, our players and what we have prepared for this match.
Is there extra pressure for a coach when you know the opposing team so well?
People will definitely think I know him so I did everything based on that. To be honest, I don’t know him that well anymore. Many things have changed. Since then, they have even had a season in the Top 14, really offensively and with a strong youth accent. These players were in the academy when I coached the first team. They bring a certain enthusiasm and allow another approach to the whole group.
Has everything really changed?
There are all the same few elements that I have seen like defense which is a sector where Shaun (Sowerby) is very demanding. They are first on many points, especially this one. As shown by the South African team, where Shaun is from, there is this taste for the contact game, the roughness of the confrontation and I know very well what to expect.
“With Shaun, we found ourselves, in the middle of summer, in a rented house in Ahetze to prepare for the season”
When you arrived in the Basque Country in 2019, you initially shared a roommate with Shaun Sowerby, whom you didn’t know…
This recruitment was done somewhat hastily. We are at the beginning of June and we need to make sure everything is ready. Together with Shaun, we therefore met, in the middle of summer, in a rented house in Ahetze to prepare for the season. We were able to do something thanks to the many exchanges around the game project. We’ve come up with something pretty powerful.
So wasn’t the disappointment too strong to leave the club in the Top 14?
Not coaching in the Top 14 was obviously disappointing and still is. But that’s life. When you refuse to move on, that’s where the paths diverge. I do not regret this choice.
Even next season which is particularly difficult for FCG with a twelfth place finish?
Yes. Obviously there were doubts at the end of the season about what we, the staff, had given the players. We did an internal audit. The inquiry and the great involvement of the manager Fabien Gengenbacher made it possible to get on the right track. We are still far from coming but, this season, we have a little bit of everything that we didn’t last season, the good rebound, the conquest of victory…
“Biarritz is the club that gave me life when I wasn’t there”
To get back into the match, this Grenoble – Biarritz will be the occasion of an open game…
Yes even their long hold on the ball goes against our pragmatism. They have possession, many crosses, score many tries. We are realistic when opportunities arise. Given our rankings, both recipes work, it promises a massive game. For us, it’s a real first challenge against one of the best teams in the championship and clearly a candidate for promotion with Oyonnax.
This Biarritz team has changed very little since the start of the season. How do you study it?
It is also something that separates us. We have used 43 players as they are more in a stable strategy with a kind of typical team. And this is beyond injuries. That’s where I also recognize Shaun’s touch. He will not give up anything on his players. He has very high standards and will ask them to give their best every time and until the end.
Does the fact that this test of character is being played against Biarritz add to the emotion?
The symbol is really special: around December 7, 2020 (17th in reality), we won with Biarritz in Grenoble (14-18) and this victory really launches our season to the end that we know. So it was a real meeting for us. We will see if we can maintain our pragmatism and if we can raise our level of play. This is the first big one we get after going to Vannes (losing 26-10) and having a little blow to Oyonnax (46-13) .
You who have experienced strong non-sporting news during your time at BO, what inspires you with this potential departure of leaders in Nice?
I haven’t said anything since I left two years ago, I won’t start now that I’m gone. This is the club that brought me back to life when I was away. I will not take a position.
The soundtrack without the pressure
While the Biarritz dynamic was launched with a third victory in a row against Provence Rugby at home last week (20-8), the arrival of the Basques in Grenoble was relatively calm. “We have not set ourselves the goal of accounting. We must continue this momentum and win receptions, like against Soyaux next week. It is the return of Christmas that will really be decisive for others,” said by opener Baptiste Germain. Same step back for the forwards coach, Roger Ripol: “We have confidence but we also know that if we lose against Grenoble, we will say again that we are irregular. As a result, we are confident in the fact that things are going very fast in this championship. We will see after Grenoble, after Christmas. You don’t need to set limits. The important thing is to get to the final stages and win them”.