EXCLUSIVE – Hans-Peter Wild: “If Labit and Ghezal would commit I would be delighted”

Since Wednesday Hans-Peter Wild, who returned urgently to the bedside of his club, has agreed to meet Olympic Midi, at the origin of the revelation of the probable arrival of Laurent labit and Karim Ghezal. On Saturday, right in the early afternoon, he gave us an hour of occasional maintenance.

How did you react when you learned, Sunday night at Midi Olympique, that Laurent Labit and Karim Ghezal would arrive at the Stade Français in a few weeks?

I do not care. I’ll shut up. Write what you want. I have other things to do than comment on the speculations.

Were you worried that this announcement could destabilize the team?

No. […] I came to Jean Bouin a few days ago. I met Gonzalo Quesada, Thomas Lombard, Morgan Parra, Paul Gustard and Kobus Potgieter (assistant coach, ed) to clarify things. Then I left.

What did you tell them or what did you learn?

Gonzalo remains at the helm until the end of the season and then he will leave the club. We agreed. And if Laurent Labit and Karim Ghezal engage with us, I would be happy because it will be a way to raise the level of professionalism of the French stadium. What have we achieved in five years? (replies in French) “Not much …” We injected tons of money and won nothing.

Have you learned from it?

Yes: you cannot buy success, it is not possible. Rugby is a group dynamic. When Heyneke Meyer signed with us, he told me: “the players play for their manager”. The current players also play for Gonzalo and demonstrated it on Saturday against Perpignan. […] Gonzalo Quesada knows better than me which players to choose. It’s his decision. He took it with his guts, with his sensitivity.

Since ?

All this to say that the interview with Gonzalo went well last week and that in the meantime Morgan Parra told me: “Professional players will never let go of what they are here for: they will play rugby and defend the shirt, their employer. That’s all. ” The rest is blah blah …

For real ?

Yup ! A few years ago I met several former club players at the Bristol (the hotel where he stayed during his visits to Paris, N.DL.R.). They told me: “We don’t give a damn about the coach. But we are the ones who manage the game ”. They are right. […] When I arrived in 2017, we were wrong. Fabien Grobon (the former CEO) knew nothing. Hubert Patricot, my lifelong friend, knew little more, even though he was on a whole new level. The problem is that it wasn’t there often. They called him “the ghost” at the club. What did we do at that moment?


Here you are. Heyneke didn’t speak French; he had a translator. Thomas Lombard then told me to recruit Gonzalo Quesada, a very smart guy who I love. These two worked together but also experienced friction when the results weren’t there. According to Gonzalo Thomas Lombard invested too much in the athlete and for him it was not his role. But their relationship has been improving lately. They exchange more. But ok …

What ?

Nothing better happened. We had a “French” meeting last spring. We talked a lot but it didn’t lead to anything. I say “à la française” because we had to go from A to B and instead we passed C, D, G, Z. We never got to B but we all went to eat together … That’s it … A la française, what … (sighs) When you say something, in business, I take it for granted. This is never the case in rugby.

Did Gonzalo Quesada then ask you to have full responsibility for the sports sector?

Yes. And I agree on this point. He was the coach and had to decide freely, but at the same time substantial work has been done to revitalize the training and once again we are bringing out international youth players who can now enter the professional world of work. Before, there was no osmosis between the professionals and the academy, from which eight players recently graduated.

Do you have a feeling that things are progressing?

I recently read that the Stade Français was alive. That’s fair enough. Under Max (Guazzini, N.DL.R.) it was a party, they filled the stadiums but they weren’t professionals. Then Thomas Savare gave some money but didn’t professionalize the club. We try to do it, even if we don’t win yet. Maybe we made the players too comfortable …

Meaning what ?

The players are well paid whatever happens on the pitch and if there is the slightest deficit the owner (he, N.DL.R.) will compensate it. What a wonderful world, right?

Gonzalo Quesada is under contract until 2024. How are you going to fire him at the end of the season?

It will be paid until 2024, it’s that simple. And he will probably become the national team manager.

Don’t you think Gonzalo Quesada will be demobilized under these conditions?

No. I trust him. (stops) Gonzalo Quesada knows rugby better than me. I repeat that the players follow him.

So why did you extend the contracts of Gonzalo, Julien Arias and Laurent Sempere for a season before the start of this season?

To align all buses on the same duration. Then the opportunity presented itself to have Laurent Labit and Karim Ghezal. They are two great coaches and if they joined us I would be very happy.

There is no reason why Laurent Labit and Karim Ghezal don’t come: they like your project, their profiles attract you …

We still have many details to work out and the focus must remain on the upcoming Rugby World Cup.

What will happen to Laurent Sempere and Julien Arias?

If a new sporting director arrives, there will be discussions to build a staff. I am very grateful to Laurent and Julien, who helped us a lot when the club was in rough waters after Heyneke Meyer’s departure. […] Don’t worry, I don’t tend to mistreat people. “There will be no worries.”

Ditto for Paul Gustard and Kobus Potgieter?

Yes. But give us time to get things right. Nothing is signed yet, I’ll call you back. Laurent Labit and Karim Ghezal must first win the World Cup. It is a great responsibility for them. Don’t bother them with that kind of thing …

According to our information, Gonzalo Quesada would have lost the confidence of part of his dressing room. What do you know?

You are wrong. He may have lost players who are not starting. But that’s the way it is in all the clubs in the world… Those who don’t play are disappointed. […] I, I think we have a good team and we will prove it.

Do you think players can be really honest with you? You are their leader, after all …

I don’t talk to them much. I ask them if everything is okay when I pass them; I check if they are sharp or not, too big or not… I observe the attitudes in the locker room and in the moments I can spend with the team. The players express themselves above all on the pitch, through the performances they must achieve when they have the opportunity to wear the club shirt.

Are you satisfied with the hires in recent years?

Overall, yes. The people who have arrived have the right frame of mind. I am proud of the behavior and character of these players. We used to have to deal with a lot of bullshit, pardon the expression, in the club. […] But to be honest, I’m still very angry that I lost the only German player we had in the club (Oskar Rixen). He went to Brive and had some good games there! But I didn’t know when he left.

Paul Alo-Emile will still be absent for several months due to severe depression. What are you going to do ?

We can recruit a joker. But most of all we have to help Paul on a daily basis. […] It is a medical case. The hospital can’t tell us a lot about Paul Alo-Emile and we respect him.

Will you release Paul Alo-Emile from his contract if he asks you?

I do not know. But before we consider such an extreme result, we will do everything to make it better.

What have you learned in five years of presidency?

It’s a difficult job … At first I didn’t understand rugby. I didn’t understand the dynamics. But now I have learned. […] I know that no club owner is ever completely happy. I recently visited my friend who is the president of the Hoffenheim club. He put hundreds of millions of euros into the club and Hoffenheim lost that day to a promoter. My friend was mad with rage after the game. He was angry with his coach: “Why didn’t he play like this and that? Or so and so? The coach is right when he wins and wrong when he loses. It’s that simple.

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