Racing Métro seem a little derailed
He should be concentrating on facing Munster but instead coach Gonzalo Quesada is answering questions about his future, writes MARK RODDEN
AFTER WATCHING his side lose a Top 14 game they should have won on Saturday, Gonzalo Quesada cut straight to the chase.
“Go ahead,” the Racing Métro head coach told reporters after the 16-12 loss to Montpellier in Paris. “Talk about coaches.”
The former Argentinian outhalf, whose Racing team host Munster in the Heineken Cup on Saturday, was referring to a rumour that has dogged him since the summer. A rumour that was finally – albeit partially – put to bed yesterday.
Although Quesada only took on his new role in the close season, the Castres coaching duo of Laurent Labit and Laurent Travers have been strongly linked with a move to big-spending Racing. Out of contract next summer, the pair ended speculation over their future yesterday by announcing that they would be leaving for “a new adventure” come the end of the season.
Labit and Travers led Castres to the Top 14 play-offs in each of the last three seasons and the consensus now is that only a last-minute change of heart will prevent them from pitching up at Racing Métro next season.
The rumours intensified in recent weeks after Racing Métro’s results took a turn for the worse. The problem for Quesada is that, with league rules stipulating that departing staff are banned from speaking publicly until the transfer window opens in April, the speculation is likely to follow him for much of the season.
The assumption is that Quesada would still be offered a role at the club next season if Labit and Travers move to Paris, though it is hard to see an experienced coaching team playing second fiddle to one who is still learning his trade.
Until now Quesada has toed the party line and been as amenable and open as ever with the media. But following a heavy defeat at newly-promoted Grenoble and the loss, via a charged-down try, to Montpellier, the situation is clearly not helping.
“If poor Benji (Benjamin Fall) hadn’t been charged down, we’d be analysing a superb win and you wouldn’t be talking to me about the context,” he said on Saturday.
The ongoing uncertainty is hardly ideal preparation for the Heineken Cup opener against Munster. But what better way to boost morale than to win a glamour tie which was moved to the Stade de France because of the notoriety of the opposition?
“We’re going to give it our all knowing that this match will be key to the rest,” Quesada told The Irish Times. “If it goes well, as we hope it will, then the Heineken Cup will still be a target.”
Quesada took over as head coach after Pierre Berbizier moved upstairs at the end of last season and the 38-year-old has Racing playing a more adventurous style. Until their two most recent defeats it was working too, with Racing winning four of their first six games and coming within a whisker of ending Clermont Auvergne’s three-year unbeaten home record.