Top 14. Joan Caudullo: “In 2011 in Montpellier, we considered Fabien Galthié a star”

Former MHR player Joan Caudullo returned to the 2011 final against Stade Toulousain.
Former MHR player Joan Caudullo returned to the 2011 final against Stade Toulousain. (©Icon Sports)

Current : Joan, how are you today?

Joan Caudullo: I have been director of the MHR training center since 2020. After 9 seasons in Montpellier and 5 in Mont-de-Marsan, I returned to basics having already discovered this position at the Montois. I love to discover potential, I passed my first diplomas at the age of 20. It is a very interesting job and in Montpellier we have the resources to have a very good quality youth policy.

Especially because several hopefuls have joined the ranks of the first team in recent months?

JC: It is a global project, Montpellier experienced a period in which the titles were desired a little too quickly. We went back to essentials, training has always been part of the club. Some profiles have started to emerge (Bévia, Foursans, Vallée, etc.), and we have a staff that does not hesitate to take risks to develop them at the highest level.

Montpellier’s qualification to the finals this weekend will necessarily bring you back to the one you experienced in 2011 as a player with the Cistes?

JC: This is the best moment of my career, great tires have united us. We had started preparation very early in May. Fabien Galthié had just arrived, he was considered a star. He put a game in place, structures and the results came quickly. We had little experience, but the frame of mind was remarkable.

Tell us about these end-stages experienced from within?

JC: Already a play-off in Castres, it was historic for Montpellier with a first qualifying for the last stages of the Top 14. Romain Teulet had missed a crucial penalty at the end and we win for Pierre-Antoine. Then the beautiful memory of the Stade Vélodrome in the semi-final. Our supporters had reacted to Racing 92, which started by showing his ambitions. We didn’t necessarily hide, but a precious step was taken that day.

After their victory over Bordeaux, Montpellier reached the final of the Top 14 for the third time in their history
After their victory over Bordeaux, Montpellier reached the final of the Top 14 for the third time in their history (©Icon Sports)

In 2011 we lacked gasoline in the engine to go to the end

Joan CaudulloFormer player and current director of the Montpellier Training Center

Until the final result and the defeat against Stade Toulousain (15-10) in the Stade de France?

JC: Of course it’s not a good memory, I still remember Galthié’s speech on the bus back after the win against Racing. That we shouldn’t regret anything and I think with the excitement of the moment, we didn’t necessarily believe in our chances, even if it came very close. We lacked fuel in the engine to go all the way to the end.

Do you have an anecdote to reveal during this historic end of the 2011 season for the Cists?

JC: There are moments you can’t see, it’s impossible! Otherwise, one day we were training in Saint-Girons, which Éric Béchu had carefully prepared for the low season. The facilities were new, then Sébastien Chobet decided to dress up as Santa Claus. He took a fire extinguisher and sprayed everyone. Well after taking a nice fridge for a while, but it was very funny! It was our operation, like those who did not play but actively participated in the life of the group.

Even if he doesn’t play a minute of the final, if he succeeds, Fufu will be able to wield Brennus’ shield with immense pride.

Joan CaudulloFormer hooker from Montpellier, Top 14 finalist in 2011

What is the atmosphere in which the club is currently a few days before the final against Castres?

JC: I find there is no fizz, but it is positive. I don’t know how it happened in 2018 where I was one of the people like many who didn’t see Castres beating Montpellier. From my position I see a real 50/50 and I feel maximum concentration. Philippe Saint-André insisted it was a normal week and that we should focus on the D-Day event.

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A word about the retirement of the emblematic captain Fulgence Ouedraogo?

JC: He had already taken the bracelet from me when we played together! In the European Cup, “Fufu” had become captain, at first perhaps the world laughed, but after a few meetings, everyone quickly noticed the phenomenon. Between early adulthood and impeccable behavior on the pasture, Fulgence made sure everyone agreed, which wasn’t always the case for me (laughs). No one should go further than what he did in Montpellier. And even if he doesn’t play a minute of the final, if he succeeds, he will be able to wave the shield of Brennus with immense pride.

Interview by Guillaume PACO

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