Harbor in yellow and black… More than 35,000 Stade Rochelais fans celebrated their rugby players on Sunday night, boarding a double-decker bus on the waterfront of La Rochelle, the day after the European title was won in Marseille.
Sunglasses, beer or water bottles – rarer – in hand, the new European champions chased the crowd chanting “Ici, ici c’est La Rochelle” from the top of the terrace of their bus.
“It’s magic, it’s unreal”
The city has not experienced such enthusiasm since it reached the Top 14 eight years ago, recalls Mélanie Stégémane, a Maritimes-50-year-old fan of childhood. “It was crazy in 2014, but this is the highlight,” he says. “We’ve achieved what we’ve been looking for for a long time,” she said before a dozen men jumped into the water at the sound Santiano Hugues Aufray spat into the corral of the harbor.
After three losing finals since 2019, Stade Rochelais, a century-old club without a major title, “according to its historic third line Romain Sazy” “conjured fate” by defeating Leinster (24-21) in an attempt. captured on Saturday at the last minute.
“It’s magic, it’s unreal,” says Olivier, his eyes half closed and his voice broken on the night of the night, “there for twenty years when the stands were still wooden,” with three copies of the newspaper Team under the arm to “help achieve”.
“We are no longer a club of losers”
For Olivier, “the click comes from [Ronan] O’Gara, an Irish manager appointed in June 2019, who “brought a culture of winning” to the players and the public because “before, in the finals, we were glad to be there.”
“Psychologically it’s over, we’re no longer a club of losers,” sums up with a smile Amar Ouguerroudj, manager of the 404 pub in the alleys behind the harbor, who “didn’t have a second to breathe” last night for the staff. its customers.
A historic night for the club, but not for this tenant: out of the number of beers sold, the “euro football match with Irish tourists” represents “three times higher sales” because “rugby is still a family here”.