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Ready to go!

Le 31 juillet 2012


Montpellier after a month of physical fitness training and a 4 day mini altitude training at Matmale in the Pyrenees had their first pre-season training game against Bayonne on Friday evening in Narbonne, unable to use the Stade Yves du Manoir as a newly laid pitch is not quite ready for the assault of 2 packs weighing in at about 850kg each.
The game was split into 4 x 20 minutes periods with changes every 20 mins, which enabled the coaches to have their first look at everybody who was available.
The Argentineans not present as they are all on 4 Nations Championship duty, Trinh-Duc, and Capt Fu Fu  are still finishing off their holiday and injuries to Gorgodze, Watremez, Bosch Audrin and Artru meant that a large number of the Academy and Espoir youngsters were present plus of course all the new signings.
The match was a pleasant affair with 7 tries and some good running rugby, mistakes yes of course, but that is to be expected as this is the first time that the squad has played together in front of Montpellier’s new coaches Stephane Glas and Mario Ledesma and head coach Fabien Galthie, against solid TOP 14 opposition Bayonne, who also had new coaches Lanta and Deylaud in charge.
The eventual winners were Bayonne by a very short head, 25-26, but although winning is important even in a friendly it is not primordial, and the chance to see how everybody fares is the real issue. The holiday crowd enjoyed 80 mins. of fast running rugby which was at least entertaining if not perfect, but then that is why these pre-season matches are arranged, exactly for that purpose. 
Alex Tulou has lost non of his sharpness from last season Illian Perraux must be complemented on his aggressive defending for a young un with not a lot of weight behind him, he tackled like a demon, Enzo Seleponi, Illian’s classmate showed why he has been performing well for the National under 20’s, Alex Bias also showed that he could be good value for money and even got himself on the scoreboard with a good try for Montpellier.
Benji Thiery back from long term injury coped very well but then you would not expect anything less from Snake man.
Mikka Nirashvilli put in a solid piece of work at the set pieces and all 3 scrum halves Tomas, Paillaugue, and young Eric Escande all did a good job and competition will be tough for the no.9 spot this season, New signing Shontayne Hape Jonnie Beattie Mat Carraro, Vincent Pelo all played their part but will need a little game time to get used to the Montpellier style of play but the future holds well!!!!. 
All in all an excellent run out for the squad, one more game before the official start of the season on the 18th Aug in Paris against Stade Francais and that will be on the 10th Aug against USAP in Perpignan.
Steve Whittell.
Pitch side interview with Shontayne Hape. Montpellier’s new English International signing.
SW. First game for Montpellier Shontayne how do you feel ?
SH.  Firstly the boys are a bit fatigued, they have had a hard week in Matmale doing altitude training, but it was good to come straight here and try and put what we have done on the training pitch into exercise against strong opposition, at the moment we are all trying to fit into what the coaches want so it is very early days.
SW. You have been with the club 4 weeks how do you feel ?
SH.  Very good, very professional in all aspects, obviously I need to get into the French style and the way they play, it takes a while as the game here is played really quick, very much off the cuff with a lot of razzle dazzle, but that for me is brilliant I just need to get some game time under my belt before the start of the season. The boys have been put through their paces over the last 4 weeks so everybody is waiting to get started on the new season.
SW. How are the facilities at your new club?
SH. The facilities are first class I have not seen better anywhere before, we are given all the tools we need to do a good job so there is really no excuses for failure, but even though the facilities are excellent it’s what happens on the park that is important, the points you need are earned on the park and not on the training ground but it is very important to get things organised and right before match day !!! Tonight we came up just a bit short but then that is why we have these training games to smooth out the mistakes and also we need a little cohesion time between the players before perfection comes along.
SW. How are you getting along with the French language and our trainers?
SH. The boys are teaching us all the bad words in French, so we have that angled well and truly covered and we have 3 trainers of excellent quality so we have no excuses, and hopefully things will happen for Montpellier again this season.
SW. Thanks Shontayne and the very best of luck with your new club.
 Interview by Steve Whittell.