MHR. “It's touching and rewarding”: Joan Caudullo looks back on her nomination and an eventful last week

MHR. "It's touching and rewarding": Joan Caudullo looks back on her nomination and an eventful last week

Ancien joueur de la maison montpelliéraine, Joan Caudullo est maintenant à sa tête. Midi Libre – JEAN-MICHEL MART

Joan Caudullo est le nouvel entraîneur principal du MHR. Pour la première fois depuis sa nomination mardi dernier, l’ancien talonneur du club se confie.

The promotion arrived earlier than expected. But Joan Caudullo, former hooker of the club (2003-2012), is propelled to the forefront. Here he is, head coach of the MHR, at 42 years old. An appointment desired by president Mohed Altrad, eager to install a Montpellier DNA in all the mysteries of the club.

This is why, in this mission, he will be supported by rookies Benoît Paillaugue (36 years old, in charge of the attack) and Geoffrey Doumayrou (34 years old, defense) , young retirees from the fields. And more experienced ones like Didier Bès (scrum), Antoine Battut (touch, forward play), Benson Stanley (rucks and contact attitudes) and Jérémy Valls (football).

How did your nomination go??

It was done after an access match in which we vibrated. In the bad way, but especially in the good way. We can say that the Montpellier public was there for this meeting. I also find that it competed with that of the Grenoblois. The next morning, the president (Mohed Altrad) asked to see me with Bernard Laporte.

What was said?

I was asked to work on a project with a staff creation in which the president wanted to put some Montpellier DNA, without forgetting the skills, obviously.

How did the staff take shape?

What was clear was that Christian (Labit), Vincent (Etcheto) and Patrice (Collazo) were no longer part of the equation. This is the order that was placed. The thoughts, for my part, were to know with whom, on a human level, I could work daily but also to have guys who are successful in their field and who know the context of the club.

Were you surprised by this promotion?

Yes. I don’t have the flashy name. When I hear about Louis Picamoles, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Benoît Paillaugue… These are people who have a better career than me, who embody rugby in Montpellier. I had the feeling that I was a bit like on a mission, that I was responsible for this Montpellier DNA. It’s touching and rewarding. That’s also what interested me.

The president wanted to integrate Benoît Paillaugue into this staff, didn't he??

Benoît represents this DNA, the president knows it. I have been working with him for a year, he is a friend of mine. He showed that he was capable of keeping up with the pace of a coach. A junior coach is the same thing as a professional coach, with much less pressure, obviously. But everyday life is the same, you live rugby, you sleep rugby, you are in an office early in the morning and you leave late in the evening. He did this for a year in hopes to show that he was capable.

"The bet is risky"

Did this young staff, this appointment, not come too soon?

I tell myself that the bet is risky. I asked myself a lot of questions. I started in 2017 in Mont-de-Marsan, at the training center. In my head, I wanted to do training and training, because those are two things that I enjoy. Managing the medium-long term and the short term interests me. Last year, when I did the interim job (he coached the MHR forward pack from November 2022 to June 2023), I was there for the first time. loved it.

Afterwards, I returned to the training center. Today, I also coach the French U19 team, I am in the training commission of the National Rugby League which works, among other things, on improving the specifications of the training centers.

Also read:MHR: Tambwe and Hogg will be in Montpellier next season, Haouas "at the first gap, he leaves", Altrad talks about the off-season

I'm 42 years old, people trained earlier than me. On the management side, we mustn't hide it, it's a risky bet. When the president proposed it to me, I thought about it, it happened quite quickly and it very quickly became something important for setting up a project . This project is about winning matches and creating this medium-long term of the club so that there is a real institution and people identify even more with this jersey.

Have you already started talking with Benoît Paillaugue and Geoffrey Doumayrou ?

Every day, with all the staff. We let the announcements go through, obviously. Since Tuesday, we started talking about the project. Wednesday morning, we had a meeting with the players and the president to determine how the pre-season would go. It was important for us to quickly show the players that we were taking over the project and how we were going to work.

We had meetings with all the staff before the holidays. I gave missions to everyone so that we work on good chemistry very quickly, that we build the pre-season and the typical week.

Benoît Paillaugue and Geoffrey Doumayrou, they are two young retirees with strong characters…

I like working with people who have character. At least you know what they're thinking. At the training center, there are people of character, like Damien Florio and Anthony Floch. When they don't agree, they tell me. I prefer that to having people who don't say what they think and with whom it's difficult to move forward.

So, it's harder to manage, it takes more time and energy but these are people who will take responsibility for everything they are going to do. We lack experience, certainly, but I think we will compensate for it. As Bernard (Laporte) said, we will compensate for it with all our energy.

The president and Bernard Laporte have already given you objectives ? Are you going to have time ?

We haven’t talked about that yet. The objectives will be set with the players. It’s important to determine this with them. With the staff, we start again two days before the players to meet up, find out what we want in terms of results but also about our respective missions. Behind this, we will set a concrete and common objective.

The president wants to win, like all presidents of all clubs. If we start losing matches, he'll lose his patience, like everyone else.

Also read: MHR: behind the scenes of the end of the adventure between Patrice Collazo, Christian Labit, Vincent Etcheto and Montpellier

In terms of the game project, where are you??

We already have a completed project, which is being implemented. With Benoît (Paillaugue) or Anthony (Floch, coach of the crabos), we started on this project last season, which we had worked on upstream with Jean-Baptiste Elissalde. The idea is to apply it from the youth teams, from the U15s onwards, so that the players do not waste time when climbing the ladder. For example, the goal is for all categories to have the same announcements on specific game sectors.

If you hadn't had your temp experience, would you have accepted the job?

Maybe not. It allowed me to know if I liked it, to see everyday life. This sequence was clearly decisive.

Bernard Laporte told you something in particular ?

After the meeting we had with the players, he asked to see all the staff. He warned us that it was important to show that we could be competent with the players, that we had to know how to manage this situation where certain coaches played with players, or even do not favor the people of Montpellier. Logical things.

We want to show that Montpellier is a land of integration. Great players from this club, like Pascal Cances, Didier Bès or Zach Mercer, were not born in Montpellier and yet, they identify with this club. This is why we will consider a Thomas Darmon, trained at the club, as much as a Sam Simmonds who arrived this season but who is at the same level.

What do you think of Vincent Etcheto's statements, targeting you and several former members of the club ?

I don't want to argue about bitterness on his part. It doesn't interest me, it's useless. We'll discuss it again, I'll tell him what I think about this situation. When something negative happens to you, there are necessarily those responsible, I don't think we are one of them in his case. At no time was there a "putsch" Montpellier residents. Just Louis Picamoles, quoted in the interview, he’s not even at the club.

From what I have read, these are comments without any basis. He had a six-month mission at the start: to maintain the club. He did it, we must congratulate him, like Patrice (Collazo) and Christian (Labit). This is what we should remember from their visit.

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