CHAMPIONS CUP – 3rd day – This Racing 92 had the weapons, it lacked the ambition

Gaël Fickou knows rugby too well to hide his face. Questioned by France 2 at the end of a match where his team had just won after recovering the penalty for the win at 12 against 15, the captain of Racing and vice-captain of the Blues shot a header six feet long.

“I think we had to do better, he first blurted out, going against a question that focused on the result. We had several opportunities to score and take the bonus. We’re disappointed because there was a way to do better. We weren’t good. It’s a bit sad, we’ll have to wake up because a team of a different caliber is waiting for us next week (Leinster at the outside, editor’s note). It’s a bitter and disappointing victory.”

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The strategic approach of the former Toulousain and Parisian at key moments of the meeting is however one of the causes of his own disappointment. Before finding themselves in this critical situation of being led with a deficit of three players on the meadow, Racing had been in a much more favorable position twenty minutes earlier. In numerical superiority following a yellow card received by winger Aaron Morris (53rd), the Ciel et Blancs had obtained a penalty just over 40 meters from the posts. Gaël Fickou then immediately signaled to the referee to take the posts.

A decision which would have been perfectly legitimate in another context, but which was less so in the situation of Racing. With only one point taken from their first two Champions Cup matches, and a final trip to the ogre of Leinster, Racing badly needed a bonus victory to make things easier before going to Dublin. At this point in the game, Laurent Travers’ men had already scored three good tries and were only one step away from the famous bonus.

Obligatory achievement in Leinster

The excuse of the remaining time no longer held up when, ten minutes from time, while the Quins had exhausted themselves not to crack at 13 then 14, and even to pick up the score thanks to a try from Cadan Murley (66th ), Eddy Ben Arous scratched a ball synonymous with a penalty 35 meters in front of the posts. This time, there was no question of taking the points for Finn Russell, who showed the touch of the arm. He was then not followed by his captain, who asked him a second time to attempt the penalty. The English were certainly two small points, but the issue was not there.

With the quality he had demonstrated in the game throughout the game, achieving beautiful game launches, especially on the trials of Kamikamica (34th) and Saili (41st), Racing had all the weapons to prefer the ambition to grocer’s calculations to blow up the Premiership third places. He also needed it to remove the defensive bonus from his opponent of the day, and competitor for qualification, and give himself an extra point which would have placed him in a slightly less uncomfortable situation before challenging a Leinster team which had massacred him on the way (10-42).

Eighth, the Racingmen now know that a dry defeat in Ireland will almost certainly eliminate them (except in the event of a draw between UBB and Gloucester and Lou’s defeat at home against Bulls). A perspective that gave Gaël Fickou plenty of reasons to sulk.

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