The international third division club have extended their contract with La Rochelle until 2026. He discussed this contract extension and the future of the newly crowned European champion Stade Rochelais with his president.
His attachment to La Rochelle
Gregor Alldritt: “It is a pride to stay at this club, which is very close to my values. That’s what I liked about five years ago when I decided to join this club: fervor, modesty, we’ve always been a modest club that never thought of itself as what it wasn’t. In addition, you play for a city, for a department, for a region. That allows me to surpass myself at the weekend and makes me want to wear a jersey. That’s why I’m very happy to extend it for another three years.”
The title of best player that eluded him
Gregor Alldritt: “Of course that would have been nice. But personal awards are not the essence of our sport. We’re not chasing them, but it’s always a pleasure to receive them. I’m honestly very happy to have this trophy. I could have been a European player but Josh van der Flier (Leinster) didn’t steal his title. He’s an excellent player, he proved it by playing a very big game in the final. Honestly, it’s not stealing…”
A trophy shared with backers
Gregor Alldritt: “The supporters and partners of the club are just as much European champions as I am. He also deserves to have their moments of joy and happiness with this trophy. (…) On site, in Marseille, it was huge. We came from two finals where there was the Covid, we got a nice slap in the face there. The stadium is beautiful, the crowd was great, they pushed hard behind us, maybe they were the only ones who believed in us before the game. They really played their part in this game. Thoroughly.”
Remobilize yourself in the top 14 at the end of the season
Gregor Alldritt: “I don’t know if it will be easy (to remobilize). I’ll let you know after the weekend. One thing is for sure, we won’t change because we have a star on the shirt. We are a group with a lot of humility. We will go back to work and work even harder to always want more. We will not settle for anything else because we have one star. (…) Of course, the top 14 is now the goal. It’s going to be very difficult. The way gets complicated. But we are determined to play a big game in Lyon first.
The fact that we played those two finals allowed us to face the week leading up to that last final better
The change of status of Stade Rochelais
Vincent Merling: “I surprised a lot of people when I said that winning the European Championship didn’t change anything for us. This will not change the way we live rugby, our club, our strategy and our options. Our culture and values remain the same. On the other hand, our enthusiasm and desire to keep building this Stade Rochelais and make it grow from year to year will change terribly. That has always been our will and will remain so. Today, this brings great joy to the entire Stade Rochelais family. It is indescribable happiness and a cocktail of pride, happiness and achievement. But we remain ourselves with our stadium culture.
A club that is growing at high speed
Vincent Merling: “We grow together. Last year when we got our ticket for the final it was impossible for me, more President of Pro D2 I would say, to go to the Stade de France. It was an extraordinary moment. For Ronan (O’Gara, the manager), it wasn’t the same… Going to Marseille this year didn’t have the same effect on me. On the other hand, there is a strong desire that is carried by the players. This has spread to all levels of the club. We went to Marseille with the desire to win this final. It was so much confidence… Reaching the final today wasn’t what we wanted. This is how you grow and gain experience. But we know where we come from.
To be clear, I am not at all in favor of South Africa taking part in the European Championship
The weight of the two defeats in the final last year
Gregor Alldritt: “I told the group we’re really thinking about this picture of Toulouse winning the trophy at Twickenham. It’s been burned into my head all season. There was so much disappointment, so much anger. Something had been taken from us and we were desperate to find it. After playing those two finals, we could start the week leading up to that last final better. I felt that each was exactly in place and fitted into a perfect shape. We had a wonderful week. We had the best conditions to win this game.
The arrival of the South African provinces in Europe
Vincent Merling: “To be clear, I am not in favor of South Africa’s arrival in the European Championship at all. Now that South Africa is in the Champions Cup, it’s no longer the European Cup, it’s a positive response that we’re offering to Celtic rugby, which it so desperately wanted. But for the Stade Rochelais president that I am, I don’t understand that. We are totally in a loss of identity. They know the club’s values, it’s not in our mindset at all. But we will be in solidarity with the league and the EPCR because we are also disciplined.
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