Five years after almost disappearing, the Gers club, aware that it will no longer be able to reach the summits, has resurfaced by relying on its breeding ground and its know-how in terms of training.
The story could not end. Not like this. After 120 years of existence and so many seasons to make the Gers shine in the elite of French rugby (two Pro D2 titles in particular in 2004 and 2007) but also beyond the borders (European Shield in 2005), Auch would have could have simply disappeared from the oval map in the spring of 2017. Strangled financially, forced into bankruptcy and placed in compulsory liquidation, the flagship club of the Gers prefecture, then down to Federal 1, almost did not survive its setbacks.
“The strategy was to stop with the habits of the previous club”
A real cataclysm in the Gascon city, where twenty charitable souls could not bring themselves to see the FCA die. The “FéCéA” as they called it. “We no longer had a player, no more an educator, no more a coach, no more a jersey, remembers Jean-Michel Justumus, the president of the now Rugby Club Auch. Each person made checks according to their means to buy jerseys, shorts, socks, tables of chairs, a computer but also a plancha, an oven and a freezer. In total, €50,000 was collected. And everything quickly took a turn, with a favor from the Federation which returned to the club, supported by the municipality with the provision of the facilities, in Honor rather than in the Third Series had allowed his CV.
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“The first year, we had perhaps 10% fewer licensees, but we were very quickly looked at and brought to light, evokes the president. This allowed us to communicate in a positive way about the leaders’ desire to get a normal club back on the road and gradually move up the ladder of amateur rugby. The strategy was to stop with the habits of the previous club which had entered the professional world 10, 15 years ago, with the obligation to have teams provided, by pros who were qualified and left. We said stop and recommended relaunching with our players who wore the jersey as young people, proposing to gradually bring back old parties because we had preferred the pros. And today, 95% of the first team is made up of ”red and white” players from Auch or Gers. »
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Because the club, at the heart of an agglomeration of 40,000 inhabitants and left with €200,000 the first year (€1,150,000 now), is aware that it will no longer be possible for it to mobilize budgets of “7, 10 , 15 million euros”. So to climb the slope, he relied on what he knew (well) to do, namely old to get the best potential present on his territory. “It’s our core business and we have continued with this strategy”, slips Jean-Michel Justumus.
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Under the leadership of Grégory Menkarska (the current general manager) and Patrick Bosque, who will take care of the cadets from this season, the Auscitains have articulated their new project around the framework of the reserve champion of France in 2017. Apart from a few nuggets standing out like Grégory Alldritt, Pierre Bourgarit, Paul Graou or Paul Pimienta, parties to try the professional adventure as Loïs Guerois (Castres), Clément Pérusin (Biarritz) and Thibault Clauzade (Narbonne) will do this year. Crowned European champions with La Rochelle in the spring, the first two, the club’s best international ambassadors, have not forgotten their roots and came to present the trophy during a July evening preserved engraved in never in the memory of kids who are just waiting to follow in their footsteps.
“We are going to find the sensations and smells of the high level”
Few will succeed but by doing their ranges in Auch, they know that they are in good hands. Because since he reset the counters, the success of the RCA is undeniable, hardly affected by the neutralization of competitions due to the Covid and having continued to climb the ladder to access the National 2 (4th div.) , well helped in its mission by former income to lend a hand. In the coming season, it will be the turn of Arnaud Mignardi (35), one after ending his career.
“We are returning to spheres that the FéCéA knew 10, 15 years ago. We are going to find this season the sensations and smells of the high level, appreciates the president, both ambitious and careful. We are going to aim for qualification and if we are in a good position, we will try to go up in National the following season. “With local players, of course.