Through Clemens Mazella
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at 37, Tual Trainini performed his first Top 14 final on the occasion Castres-Montpellier, won with no possible challenge for the MHR (29-10). The one who stopped playing rugby at the age of 20 said he was “surprised” to have been nominated for the event, making the best of it, under the eyes of his mother and brother, who were in the stands at the Stade de France were present.
News: Tual, almost a week later, what memories linger on you after leading your first top 14 final?
Tual Trainini: i have good ones I think it didn’t go so bad on the pitch. I didn’t end up with 23 players and a staff after me (laughs). There’s also that moment of sharing with the whole team, be it the assistants, referees #4 and #5, the video guide, the coaches and the selection committee… Live this moment all together, it was really nice.
Do you think this top 14 final is the fulfillment of your career, you who started refereeing more than 15 years ago?
TT: So far yes, clearly. But I hope it doesn’t mean the end of my career either (laughs). And that I had the opportunity to make another one…
How did you find out about and welcome your nomination for the Top 14 finals?
TT: Every week, Franck Maciello (Head of the National Directorate of Arbitration) and the selection committee invited via video all the arbiters expected to reach the final stage of the top 14. The announcement was made during a recent meeting. I greeted them with a mixture of joy and surprise. The appointment is a vote of confidence and an achievement every umpire, whether Top 14 or 4th Series, dreams of. But I was also surprised because when I see that there were also Matthieu Raynal, Romain Poite, Pierre Brousset and Ludovic Cayre, these are people who were entitled to act in this final. There was uncertainty, and if it falls on you, it’s bound to be a good surprise.
As they say in the South, I’m degun and I find myself there shaking hands with the President of the Republic, it was a really good moment.
Do we subconsciously prepare differently because it’s a top 14 final?
TT: It’s not even unconscious, it’s conscious. Yes, my preparation was different. Personally, but also with the teams. In the past few days we have had a point with all the members of the referee corps and the staff and captains of each team. It’s something that doesn’t happen regularly in the top 14. Finding yourself with such preparation shows that this is clearly not a match like the others. My team’s whole mental approach was different on the day of the match. You have to project yourself onto what can possibly happen but stay grounded in the present moment. For we must arbitrate what is offered to us at moment T, not arbitrate what might happen.
Was there also the fear of finding yourself at the center of a possible controversy over a questionable decision?
TT: nope ! If I start to worry, I don’t go to the field. I step onto the pitch like any other player to do well, with certainty about the process, knowing the rules and the teams about what they are doing well or what they can improve on. I control as much as possible what is controllable and I adapt to what is not controllable.
How do you stay focused during a ceremony, especially the presentation of all the players in the game to the President of the Republic, which is particularly lengthy?
TT: Two things: First, I knew it would be my turn. I had to be prepared for this moment. I knew exactly what I was going to say, do and be specific. The second was to mentally project myself with positive images just to prepare myself for what was to come. I felt like it was long because we were all going for the coals, but I didn’t suffer from it.
They were able to exchange a few words with President Emmanuel Macron…
TT: Yes, it was very cordial. It’s pretty incredible to see these types of personalities who find themselves very approachable at a given moment. But as they say in the South, I’m degun (I’m nobody, ed.) and to find myself there shaking hands with the President of the Republic, the President of the FFR and the Presidents of the clubs, that was really a good time.
Seeing my mother at the stadium with my brother when we lost my father about a month ago was a great moment.
At the final whistle, did you feel like you had accomplished a task and done it well?
TT: duty done, yes! Well done… Let’s assume the satisfaction was really there. Even though there were difficult moments or tough decisions to make, I felt like I didn’t lose my footing. I was there and I was in control of what was going on. After that, players from the losing team quickly came to greet the referees, there were no unpleasant words. There was no anger, no aggressiveness, the CO staff was incredibly polite and correct, the Montpellier staff was also respectful, and all of those moments made me say I hadn’t done anything.
What statements by the game’s actors impressed you the most?
TT: Castres scrum half Jérémy Fernandez apologized for his attitude during the game. Still, I hadn’t felt it particularly vehemently, and that was still within the realm of tolerability. I thought it was nice that this player who had just lost a top 14 final came to tell me that. The other good moment was with Loïc Jacquet. He ended his career and said something like “I have no right to be sad”. It’s great when the moment was difficult for him. These words, mark it, necessarily.
Do you think a decision was made during this final that you were wrong about?
TT: I have identified several points. There’s a situation where I whistle a penalty for Castres and Bouthier steps forward. In the video, a castrese seems to touch the ball at times, and in those cases I could have decided a scrum. There is also a penalty against Levan Chilachava from 40m from the post, which is a 50-50 situation. He’s not clearly on his support, he goes through the bottom but gets back on his support without necessarily releasing the tackle… I don’t know if it’s right or wrong, but it’s a decision that can be debated or must.
If you had to remember just one anecdote from that finale, whether before, during or after, what would it be?
TT: (He thinks…). I’ll talk about a moment instead. The one where I found my family in the stands at the end of the game. Seeing my mother at the stadium with my brother when we lost my father about a month ago was a great moment. It was one of the strongest at the end of the meeting. The second was to meet with the other match officials. To see smiles, joy in the dressing room, it was nice. We didn’t win a shield, but we gained a lot of things in this match and most importantly, some really nice memories.
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