Monaco goes up to Paris with long teeth
Created in 2019, the Monaco Rugby Sevens is preparing to play this weekend in the final rugby sevens tournament with great ambition, building on its latest successes in the last two stages.
The driving rhythm of the tube Oye Mi Canto echoes in the changing room of the Devens stadium between La Turbie and Beausoleil. The chorus is taken to the heart by a few players before leaving to train in the rain, the villages not always bearing their name well. Despite the downpour, the smile does not leave Monegasque lips and it will undoubtedly always be present this weekend in Nanterre where the final stage of the Super Sevens takes place. Happy to meet again after a summer synonymous with success, the Principality’s players will come to Paris La Défense Arena with enthusiasm, ambition and confidence, just two years after the founding of the team.
Express creation and global stars
Everything can go very quickly in Monaco and rugby has not escaped it. In 2020, the National Rugby League (LNR) is launching its big 7-a-side rugby competition, the Supersevens “I learned that Paul Goze, the president of the League is launching a championship with all the Top14 teams plus two invited I’m told it’s for us “, smiles Emmanuel Falco, president of” MR7 “and private adviser to Prince Albert II. “I then spoke to the Sovereign, he was delighted. We then applied to be invited. Whether it was the League or the Federation, they immediately accepted, Bernard Laporte told me ‘What an excellent idea!’ So, with Frederic Michalak, whom I know well and who is now general manager, we put the team together “.
The Monaco Rugby Sevens was born and does not take long to be competitive. The first edition is held on one day, February 1, 2020. Monaco is stopped in the quarter-finals by Stade Français after beating Brive. This season, the format is different. The competition takes place in three stages and one big one. Seventh in the first stage “not helped by the arbitration” we whisper to the club, the MR7 won the second stage in Toulouse then the third in La Rochelle.
“Some have taken a vacation to come”
“We were perhaps looked down on because everyone said we had amateur players,” said coach Jérémy Aicardi. “It’s not wrong. Some people took a week’s vacation to come with us this weekend to face Top 14 players who train every day or several times a day. is reinforced, we do not go there to pretend ”. And not just any reinforcements. The South African Cecil Afrika, best player in the world at 7 in 2011, played the last two victorious stages while the Englishman Dan Norton, record holder of the number of tests at the international level, “the surprise of the President” is having fun to say Falco, will start in the jersey of the Principality on the synthetic of Nanterre. To them, the players turn around 3000 points in World Series. “They are customers anyway,” laughs Captain Johan Demai-Hamecher. “I played against them and I prefer to have them with me, it feels good. It’s a great contribution, they blend into the collective, which has been our strength this summer,” he continues.
More than a collective, Emmanuel Falco wanted to build a family and he seems to have succeeded. “It is clear that it is,” says Cecil Afrika, laughing out loud. “They gave me a warm welcome, love. They totally accepted me. I am grateful to them,” says the South African. It is this same spirit that also convinced Dan Norton to join the Monegasque adventure.
The showcase of rugby in Monaco
Before embarking on an arena welcoming at least 20,000 spectators on Saturday for his quarter-final against La Rochelle, Jérémy Aicardi’s men trained in front of a few young people from the club at the Devens stadium, their eyes filled with stars. “It makes you want to see them, to watch them, to join them, to play with them or to train them because they have an enormous level”, admits Raphaël, 12 years old, “we underestimate them every time. Monaco, in football, may be good but in rugby, there is a lot of potential and they can also beat big teams like Toulouse or Toulon “.
Success necessary to continue to make these young Monegasques dream according to captain Johan Demai-Hamecher: “we must continue to show, to have results, to give the maximum on the field and in training when they come to see us so that they continues to want to do this sport and who knows one day to play with us “. Because if the showcase of a club is generally its XV team, in the Principality, it is the opposite. “There is the club VII which performs and which has results but behind there is a club of 350 licensees including 150 in rugby school, a women’s section for three years, seniors who have moved up to Federal 3”, insists on underline Thomas Riqué, the president of rugby union, “the amateur world comes to join the professional world and everyone feeds on each other”. A link that perfectly represents Thomas Riqué also wearing the cap of medical director of the team at VII.
The dream of the Olympic Games
Still in its early stages, the MR7 wants to take its time while keeping in the back of his mind… an Olympic dream. “We think about it strongly”, smiles Emmanuel Falco that Prince Albert II would be more than enthusiastic about the idea of supporting a team from the Principality during an Olympic rugby sevens tournament before warning: “we do not want not be the Qatar of handball “. So we need former young Monegasques and that will take time. “This is the big project that I am starting to build with the XV club. I see the young people from the rugby school every Wednesday, Saturday, we work on the Sevens rugby. The VII is at the service of the XV and vice versa. If tomorrow we can take players from the XV, it would be a global Monegasque project and as far as the Olympic project is concerned, it is a lot of years, “explains Jérémy Aicardi.
Not enough to cool Thomas Riqué: “if, in a few years, rugby has taken, that there are children from the basin, born in Monaco, who play rugby at a high level like Antoine Zegdhar who plays today at Castres, then we can dream of Olympic participation. It would be wonderful, that’s the end. ” In the meantime, there is a final event to go and find in Ile-de-France… the future venue for the Games.