The pillar of the ASBH returned from Dubai with stars in his eyes. Assured of competing in the Rugby World Cup with Portugal, he now only thinks of making his club shine.
While at his age, some have already hung up their crampons for a while, at 37, Francisco Fernandes is advancing with the enthusiasm of a cadet. With the ASBH, of course, where his experience and cunning make him a dreaded pillar of his peers. But also with the national team of Portugal, where he is one of those pack mentors who led their training to the top. Towards what he calls his “Grail”.
With Raffaele Costa-Storti
The Biterrois pillar, who will be fighting against Rouen Normandy, this Friday, at Raoul-Barrière (7:30 p.m.) has indeed just returned from Dubai, where his national team of Portugal won its qualification for the next FIFA Cup. world, at the expense of the United States, Kenya and Hong Kong. Francisco Fernandes was accompanied by his teammate winger Raffaelle Costa-Storti. They came back from the United Arab Emirates with stars in their eyes.
The last post
Because this qualification has a very special flavor. A few months ago, it was really not relevant. It only became possible when, last June, Spain was excluded from the competition. His fault: having had a South African player evaluated in his ranks who had no right to be there, being ineligible. With Spain removed, a game of musical chairs was played out. In the end, during the last qualifying tournament, it was therefore Portugal who won 20e and last ticket for the World Cup which will take place in France in 2023: “We experienced this tournament as a last chanceenjoy Chico. We have all gone into the unknown. In addition, it was in Dubai, where everything exudes bling-bling! “
His second World Cup
Chico Fernandes is the oldest player in his selection. He is at around thirty caps gleaned with Portugal. This will be the second time he will play in a World Cup. The first was in the youth selection, in France. In 2023, he will therefore play his last world, also, in France: “This is a dream, the pillar prospers, proud to come full circle. It’s really awesome. A World Cup is the Holy Grail for a player.” It is, in any case, a very big challenge that awaits Chico and the Portuguese. In their pool, they will face Australia, Wales, Fiji and Georgia. Sacred battles in perspective. In the meantime, launched on two fronts, the Béziers player will now have to grit his teeth. Because in addition to Béziers, he will therefore also have to manage the preparation and the matches with his national team: “It will indeed require more work, Francisco smiled. That’s going to be the most difficult.”
joy and sadness
Knowing that in Dubai, the Biterrois was torn between two feelings: the joy of winning with Portugal and the sadness of seeing the ASBH accumulate defeats: “It gnawed at me, does he not hide. It was hard to think about friends because we were winning and my friends were losing. I left a lot of nerve impulses there.” Francisco Fernandes returned to Béziers this week. He resumed training with the ASBH on Tuesday. He had fangs: “I found the team a little stressed, he notes. Now, it’s obvious, we have entered into a maintenance objective. You have to take the slightest point to save the club. I agreed to qualify Portugal for the World Cup. From now on, I want to help Béziers to maintain itself. Besides, even if there is the Six Nations tournament, I will favor the club. Either way, we have no choice. We have to beat Rouen. If we lost, we would have to start over. And in the middle of the season, it would be very difficult.”