Thirty-six years later, Patrice Laguesquet will return to Australia for the Rugby World Cup. In 1987, during the first World Cup in history, the French winger participated in the legendary match that resulted in Serge Blanco’s victory in the last minute of the semi-final against the Wallabies (30-24). In Saint-Etienne, this Sunday (5:45pm France 2), at the top of Portugal Patrice Laguesquet will challenge the Australians once again. A very different challenge for the 61-year-old coach and former Blues winger with 46 international caps.
An lopsided duel on paper between the Australians, who have never missed a quarter-final, and the Portuguese, who are only participating in the World Cup for the second time, after 2007. But “Os Lobos” (Wolves) go ahead and win their first draw in a single match. World Cup (18-18 against Georgia), while Australia, after defeats to Fiji and then Wales, are in tatters. To the point of thinking of a big surprise?
“It’s unbelievable to hear everyone asking us if we can win,” Patrice Lajesquet said before tempering his enthusiasm. While he said that he was “proud of his team” after the honorable defeat against Wales (28-8) and the draw against Georgia. The results were achieved thanks to an exciting match that carried the touch of its coach between rigor, efficiency and offensive creativity. This is a rarity in the sometimes restricted game of rugby played by “small” nations that do not have the means to send matches.
“Patrice is always up to date!”
But it is not surprising to know the French technician, who managed Biarritz Olympique when the Basque club was running in France and much of Europe in the 2000s. At that time, Jacques Delmas was his partner on the bench for Piaro: “Patrese is always up to date! We are getting older, but the quality he had, he kept it, he smiled. I am not surprised to see the game the Portuguese are playing. Patrese knew how to keep “He adheres to his playing philosophy, and knows how to extract the essence from his group. I no longer meet him, but I see that he adheres to the same demands. He appears in this team.”
The master of play on the field of this golden era in Biarritz, former international scrum-half Dimitri Yaashvili, who today works as a consultant for France Television, is not surprised either. “Patrice, he’s always had this style of play. He’s a good tactician, a good technician and a real analyst. He studies the opponents, their strengths and weaknesses, and imagines the game’s launches accordingly, explains Yashvili. At that time, I was enjoying myself in the middle of it all. He’s gone.” To the point of programming the first 3-4 periods of play, with many options in addition. He is precise and diligent. »
Like the Yashvili of his time, Mike Tadger, 34, is having fun, too. “At my age, I’m still learning with Patrice,” explains the current Portuguese prostitute. For example, against Wales, there’s a combination where after the throw-in, I collect the ball and throw it inside to my midfield, and it worked well. There are two or three sets like the one Patrice makes for me crush. It’s fun, we feel involved in the game project. Plus, there will be a new game on Sunday! »
Strokes of genius and strokes of fury
More than just an immoderate taste for the beautiful game, it was perhaps also pragmatism that guided Lagesquet in his choices. “We will try to practice a style of play that matches the style of our players,” he admits. “Patrice was a winger, he loved fast rugby, the action game,” continues Mike Tudger. And it’s fortunate that we have a group ready for that, with a lot of youngsters coming through the rugby sevens team, who have that philosophy. »
Therefore, Lagesquet adapted to the qualities of his players, because he also knows how to adapt to opponents. Example at halftime of the game against Georgia. “He told us that we have to play every time we have the ball,” explains winger Rodrigo Marta. A welcome update – the Portuguese are back after the break – but the walls of the Toulouse dressing room are still shaking. “I can’t repeat everything, it wouldn’t be polite,” Lajeske admitted after the match about his half-time speech.
This is another characteristic of “Lajesque”, which makes Delmas or Ishvili smile, and he has not forgotten his epic anger. “He must have calmed down, he seems calmer,” they both thought. “He yells at us a lot when we have a bad session,” confirms Mike Tadger. But I think training Portugal is less stressful than training France, the pressure is less. He’s having more fun. “And the public too.