Thibault Giroud : "Our training has to match the game plan"
With only a few hours separating RCT from their third pre-season game, Thibault Giroud, the club’s chief fitness coach, talks about the squad’s physical condition and the work carried out over the last month.
Thibault, the team as a whole started training a month ago – it officially resumed on July 10th. What can you tell us about the first month of training?
When we resumed work, the team was divided into various groups: international players, new recruits, etc. The last season was a long one for the club and, taking all those factors into account, training had to be done on an individual basis. We knew we were going to Argentina: it took a long trip and there was a significant gap in the temperatures. We had to take those things into account as well. Once in Argentina, we chose to work intensively on the physical condition. We didn’t pay too much attention to the results of the two friendlies we played there.
How did you work on the physical condition? What were your goals?
We are three weeks from the start of the Top 14. The most important thing for the players was not to pick up a serious injury during our stay in Argentina. Unfortunately, we lost Jonathan [Wisniewski] after an incident. We wanted physical training to match the coaches’ game plan. The Toulon team has always been a powerful, physical one. We want to keep this, but also bring something else: fast and lively moves to go forward as quickly as possible once we get the ball. We’re very keen on this, but we still wish to keep our physical dimension.
At the start, do you realise that, at European and international levels, there are longer playing-times with more repeated efforts?
Precisely! Intensity is being constantly repeated. We realise that, at international level, it’s rugby playing that counts. In the Top 14, you have strong physical contacts, but also slower phases. In the European Cup, many French teams find it difficult to repeat quick-paced phases over a long time. Our idea is to have various options available. We know that our team has physical density and we want to keep this, but we also wish to shift towards a game based on quick moves and repeated efforts.
Do you think the first results of your training will tell against Clermont, on Friday evening?
We know we have to win at the Stade Mayol. But the most important game will be against Pau, on August 27th. On Friday, we’ll look for indications on what we’ve been setting up since training began. Facing Clermont will be a good way to measure this, as their game plan is based on the points we’ve been working on.
Personally, and as you are a new recruit as well, are you enjoying your time in Toulon?
Well, it’s a nice change! Concerning the weather, first, as I used to live in Glasgow before I came here. I realise that the club has a great number of fans and the pressure felt is positive. This is quite a special club. I’ve been doing this job for seventeen years and I think the club really deserves its motto: everything is different here. You don’t always realise it when you see it from the outside. I’m very happy to be here and, on Friday, I’ll experience the game at Mayol as a member of the club. I had experienced this on the other side, when I was working for Biarritz. This time, I’m looking forward to experiencing it from within.