Open house operation in the Hauts-de-Seine.
The numbers hurt: before the 21st day of the Top 14, Racing has the worst defense in the elite, with 560 points conceded, a worrying average of 28 points in the haversack at each meeting.
Worse than Perpignan (557) and the red lantern Brive (553), who are struggling at the bottom of the ranking.
The Ile-de-France remain on two heavy setbacks, against Lyon (45-11) then against Stade Toulousain (35-39) at the Arena.
Schedule and Top 14 results
Ranking Top 14
At the end of this new setback at home (the third in the Top 14 this season), the manager of Ciel et Blanc, Laurent Travers, had recognized that “it (
their) hung in the face”
“I have always said that 'You always have to score one more point than the opponent.
When you take 40, you have to put 41 but it's anything but simple... We're too fragile defensively, we know that.
But you have to go for the confidence.”
Racing's defensive flaws are glaring: a completely crumbly midfield, a lack of aggressiveness in the rucks and guilty passivity on the turn-overs (recovery balls).
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Before finding the Stade Français Paris which had strolled during the first Ile-de-France derby of the season (10-48 at the Arena de Nanterre), the concern is great.
The Altosequan club had made defense one of its great strengths in recent seasons, notably finishing with the best in the championship in 2017-2018.
A time gone.
“When you have a player passing between two others, it's because you don't communicate.
We are in a negative spiral,
observes Laurent Travers.
We are well placed to know: 2-3 years ago, we were in the best defenses.
It didn't disappear overnight.
“I sleep little at the moment and the little I sleep, I sleep badly”
How to explain these disturbing defensive largesse?
The club lost several "big guys" from its pack, who were doing a lot of behind the scenes, including second lines Bernard Le Roux, Donnacha Ryan and Dominic Bird, or even third line Yoan Tanga and hooker Teddy Baubigny.
And, on the offensive level, the 92 team also saw the departure of talents who could have caught up with these defensive failures: Virimi Vakatawa, Teddy Thomas or Kurtley Beale.
“Offensively, we have the opportunity to respond but there are things that have escaped us.
On small details, it goes off the rails and this little grain of sand which comes to put itself in the middle put us in difficulty”,
agrees the Ile-de-France manager.
In this kind of situation, it is the responsibility of the coach in charge of the defense which is singled out.
And, at Racing 92, it is Dimitri Szarzewski who has been in charge of it since 2020. Recently, the former international hooker (83 caps) explained in the columns of
that this bad pass weighed on him.
“I am in charge of this sector so I question myself.
I sleep little at the moment and the little I sleep, I sleep badly.
It's normal, I'm trying to understand, I'm looking for solutions
,” he admitted.
“what is clear is that the slap received against Leinster at home hurt us”
"It's like a kid being told he's bad at math"
The rout suffered in Le Havre (10-42) against the band of Josh van der Flier (author of a double) left its mark.
And totally messed up the machine.
Which could lead to a sad first: the Altoséquanais club could miss the final stages for the first time since its return to the Top 14 in 2009-2010.
The pressure is on, with just six games left and the club three points behind the stunning promoted Bayonne in sixth.
"It's like a kid being told he sucks at math.
By dint of repeating: "defense, defense, defense", we tremble,
confirms Laurent Travers.
We have our share of responsibilities in the staff, because it is we who put this system in place.
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At the microphone of
, the Argentinian winger Juan Imhoff, who never minces his words, had let go:
“We wanted to consolidate our place in the six, but we are not yet ready to be in the six.
Now we are going to play with fear in our stomachs.
Even more against Parisians who shine with their attacking game this season.
And who would be delighted to push their Ile-de-France neighbor a little further.