Kélian Galletier (Montpellier) about 2018 final against Castres: “It remains difficult”

“What memories do you have of this final?
It was my first final at the Stade de France, even though I had already played with the French team there, it was a great event. It was a pride to bring this club back to the final seven years after 2011. We had had a great season, so we were in a different status at the time. And it’s a huge disappointment. We left very disappointed.

From the start of the match, like missed penalties by Ruan Pienaar, do you have the feeling that something is wrong?
Given the score (29-13), there’s nothing to say about the game… We just missed it. Also because Castres had a great match and outsmarted us. It’s the ”beauty” of a final, knowing how to be there on D-Day to become champion and that’s what Castres did that day.

“The further the game progressed, the more we fell apart. If you feel something slipping, you put a lot of pressure on yourself and play backwards…”

You finish first in the regular season, you crush Lyon in half, was there some kind of hubris?
No, I don’t remember… We were placed as ultra favorites, but we kept our focus, to try and repeat the performance of the semi-final, which was really good for once. Unfortunately we missed the final. The further the match progressed, the more we fell apart. We could see the match slipping away from us, we were all trying to get it right, but in cleavers like that, when you feel something slipping, you put a lot of pressure on yourself and you end up playing backwards…

During the season, despite your dominance in the standings, did you already have these kinds of competitions?
There had been a few away games during the season we missed. It was kind of the same in this final. At the same time, everything is different in a final. Everything will reset and you should manage to ignore what happened before. It’s easier said than done. If you don’t have any latest experience, and casually did for the majority of the team, it counts. I remember when I had another push, you come into this stadium, it’s impressive. I had played there with the French team, but it’s hardly the same stadium, it’s summer, there are all those supporters, it’s a club match, the red carpet…

“I had played with the French team at the Stade de France, but it’s almost not the same stadium. It’s summer, there are all those supporters, it’s a club match, the red carpet…”

You’ve had a very complicated start to the season. Did you have trouble getting behind?
The following year is often complicated for the champion, so introduce yourself for the finalist. We had a lot of trouble, we had been hit hard because we had big ambitions. We wanted it more than anything and we missed this last step after a very long season and a lot of effort. We had to digest it, it was very heavy. We have chained a few defeats, including the return of Castres, and that gets us in trouble. It had taken us six months to lift our heads.

Did this defeat also mark a turning point in club policy, the beginning of the end of the “South African” era?
I haven’t seen it that way. A lot has happened since then, there have been several lives since 2018 (laughs). And the Covid with all that! It was a phase in the club… I’m more marked by the fact that we’ve had a great season, one of the best in the history of this club – record points, record wins – and I won’t forget that. In retrospect we were ”only” vice-champion and it remains a chance to eventually play a final. I hope we can go to the end this year.

In the wake of the final, you toured New Zealand with the French team…
Sure enough, on Monday (the final was played on a Saturday). I was with Benjamin Fall and we had found Mathieu Babillot (de Castrais) on the plane. It was weird, but Mathieu is a really good guy. We congratulated him, we imagined his joy that he had won and he respected our pain, shall we say.

And you make very good matches there too…
Yes, yes, it has been an incredible year for me on a personal level. I had a great season, played well in New Zealand, really just lacked this title.

This final, it remains the biggest regret of your career so far?
Yes, because we don’t really experience those moments. I actually don’t like the word sorry, what happened happened, but of course it would have been something different in my life if we had won. It will remain a pain, a suffering, a failure. †

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