TOP 14. Maxime Médard. ''C'est le dernier témoin de l'ère Guy Novès''

TOP 14. Maxime Medard. ”This is the last witness of the Guy Novès era”

367 matches played. 114 trials registered. Stade Toulousain, the unique club of legend Maxime Médard, paid a vibrant tribute to the former international back on Sunday evening. Arriving at the club as a youngster in 2000 from Blagnac, where his father had played, Médard spent 18 seasons with the red and black club. The proud representative of “one-club players” will bow out at the end of the season depending on Toulouse’s sporting results in the final phase of the Top 14. With his five French championship titles (2008, 2011, 2012, 2019 and 2021) and two (three if we count the 2005 title) of the European Cup (2010 and 2021), he marked the history of the club and left indelible memories in the memory of the supporters.

RUGBY.  Toulouse, Bordeaux, Castres, etc.  The posters of the final stages of Top 14RUGBY. Toulouse, Bordeaux, Castres, etc. The posters of the final stages of Top 14

The supporters, precisely, came in number to Ernest Wallon for the tribute paid to the players who will leave the club. But it was above all for Médard that the public came in large numbers. Evidenced by the masks of his head placed on each seat of the stadium before the meeting. The occasion of the match against Biarritz, already relegated to Pro D2, was conducive to a gala and a parade. Because from next week, it will be the return to competition, and in particular the jump-off. There won’t be time to celebrate anything.

In the metro that led to the “Barrière de Paris” station where the shuttles waiting to transport the supporters to the stadium, a Toulouse man who came to the match especially for Médard told me what he symbolized. “I started to follow rugby when Maxime Médard started. I kind of grew up with him“, he said to me, his eyes filled with emotion (not yet with tears). “It really is the end of an era“The current one is very beautiful, he concedes.

Arrived at Ernest Wallon, I question two long-time supporters of Stade Toulousain: Thierry and Fausto. Also came for Maxime Médard, but also the others (Iosefa Tekori, Rory Arnold, Antoine Miquel, Paulo Tafili, Zack Holmes). When I ask them what the end of “Max” inspired them at the Stadium, memories resurface to testify in favor of the former international:

He has brought us a lot all these years, that’s for sure. Always inspired in the field. He was someone who did incredible things. And then he never let go of anything on the pitch. The action that I remember first is the one in the European Cup against Bath where he hit the arm of the Englishman in our in-goal.

And then, you remember a few years ago, when there were barely 12,000 spectators here, the game was boring, we had really mediocre seasons, he had been asked by Toulon. He could totally go there. Towards a club that was doing well and was successful. Eventually he stayed here. That was quite a gesture on his part.

VIDEO.  Top 14. For his last, Tekori shocks his world and achieves an improbable transformationVIDEO. Top 14. For his last, Tekori shocks his world and achieves an improbable transformation

Médard’s loyalty to Toulouse allowed him to become an icon in the pink city. Arrived in the stands, I lend myself to the game of the mask with the effigy of Maxime. Mask that I will put on when it comes back into play. Toulouse and Biarrots are warming up, and now the announcer announces the team compositions. Unsurprisingly, when the name of our protagonist comes up, the crowd cheers their champion as I have rarely seen in Walloon.

After the return from the locker room, while the women presented at half-time their shield won the day before against Blagnac in Grenoble, the public began to get impatient to see their favorite come into play. It was done before time game. And over the surges of Toulouse in the Biarrot camp, a single objective dominated the minds of the supporters: to see Maxime Médard register a try.

Following a breakthrough by Fouyssac in the opposing camp, the whole stadium stood up and shouted at the players to pass to “Wolverine” unmarked on his wing. The boos finally descended on the players following a failed first attempt. All Ernest Wallon cried foul that his protege did not score. Finally, a few minutes later, Baptiste Germain, feeling the popular expectation emanating from the stands, executed a pass to the main interested party still unmarked. Floating in the air, bouncing, landing, trying. And the stadium explodes. Médard scored, the essential is there.

And now the whistle frees the actors of the meeting. Moment when my neighbor takes the opportunity to give me this reflection: “It is the last witness of the Guy Novès era. That’s it, it’s well and truly over“. The most successful club in France is definitely turning the page.

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