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Aymeric Luc: “It was just a kick, I don’t have to take all the guilt”

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EXCLUSIVE – Aymeric Luc has certainly been the most dangerous and consistent Bayonnais of the season. However, on Saturday, the Basque club’s top try scorer (10) missed his kick in the merciless sudden death penalty shootout. Three days later, he comes back for Rugbyrama on this unfortunate moment and says he is ready to turn the page.

Aymeric, how are you?

I’m doing well. You have to know how to digest things like that. I am much more disappointed in a collective way for this failure, that of a project, of a city. I talk about failure, but I think it is mainly a stop, a disappointment.

How did you live these last days?

It was not easy. There were a lot of images that kept coming back to me and reminding me of that moment. After the stadium, we all got together for a chat and a beer to end the season. It doesn’t end well, of course. When you fall asleep, you have images that come back. We have to replay the game, the night is a bit complicated, but afterwards, we switch.

What was said in the team when the extra time came to an end?

There were, on the one hand, those who were going to take on the responsibility of holding the team together with their foot. I’m thinking of Gaëtan Germain, Manuel Ordas, Guillaume Rouet. Behind them, there were those who were relieved that the game was over, even if the score was zero. The responsibility left them because now it was going to be the turn of five or more people to write the end of the game.

How was the choice of shooters made in Bayonne?

It was Arthur Duhau who started writing the list from the bench. He knows the team well, those who shoot against the poles less seriously than others. His list was very coherent, the proof is that the first five did not miss their shots. From my point of view, I didn’t think I was going to be chosen after them. For me, the game was going to end after the five shots. I didn’t think there was going to be a sixth, seventh, or whatever.

So how did you decide on the sixth?

There weren’t many people left. It was between Hugo Zabalza and me. Hugo made a very nice entrance, but maybe he wasn’t meant to play that role. I played a lot of games this year, I scored points. I think it was up to me to take this responsibility. It was the logical next step behind the good shooters. I’m not ashamed to have taken it. It didn’t smile on me. That’s just the way it is.

How do you feel when you leave your teammates to go shoot, and then when you find yourself in front of the posts?

There was a lot of atmosphere and noise around. I tried to block it out, because I think it’s important. Surprisingly, I was able to do that. I went into a bubble. After that, you shouldn’t ask yourself any questions, and I didn’t ask myself any. Then, you have to go naturally and type. Now I’m talking about it as if I had succeeded in this kick, whereas I missed it. But the way I approached it, if I had to do it again, I would do it the same way.

A lot of players have told us that it was a horrible session to go through. Is that how you feel?

Yes, it’s horrible. We know that we have an entire club and a people on our feet. Everyone’s job is to take the pressure off. The strikers are more used to it than we are. But I managed to do it.

On this kick, what happens?

I’m not hitting it right. I’m putting my foot down way too early in relation to the ball. I’m hitting the tee. I’m only focusing on the shot, because I think it can make a difference. I don’t look up right away, because these are little instructions that I was often told when I was younger. I finish my move, I go to the end of my action even if I hear a bad noise. Then I look up and realize that the ball is going to the right. I cast my mind to the fact that Steffon Armitage might miss it, but reality catches up with me very quickly.

Did you ever score in your youth?

When I was young, I did some penalty shootout training. I was a scorer in the cadet years in some games or once in Crabos. But that’s a long time ago. The basics are no longer there. I had a few strong words in my head from people who were able to guide me to reassure me and have a leitmotiv. But it doesn’t make a difference. It’s been so long since I’ve trained, it’s like I have no foundation.

Who are these people?

Daniel Larrechea, who I started to shoot with when I was 12 or 13. There were also the words of Sébastien Fauqué. Even if I didn’t kick with him, he gives advice when you play with the running foot, which can be useful when facing the poles. Finally, those of Thomas Darracq, who gave me a lot of advice on footwork in the U23s, also came back.

Did you see that kick again?

Yes. It confirmed my modest analysis. The foot is 50 centimeters before the ball. I’m sure it must be level with the ball. That’s one thing I remembered. I saw it again, I didn’t blush. The foot is too early, I hit the tee. My swing step is not good, not adapted. It’s related to my lack of practice, but I’m not going to hide behind that. It’s 22 meters in front of the posts. If I hit 10, I put in 8. That was one of the two I didn’t put in.

The moment that follows, when you go back to your teammates, must be complicated to live…

Yes, it’s complicated, it’s infuriating, it’s a feeling of helplessness. I come back to them, I am disappointed in them. But we always had a golden group. On this match, it was proven. They all came up to me, consoled me. They all told me that it wasn’t my fault, that it could have happened to someone else. That’s what the whole locker room said, including the staff. Of course, it was an embarrassing and sad moment. You feel responsible. Afterwards, I felt good in the team, I wasn’t afraid to face their eyes. They were all golden.

You are far from being responsible for this relegation, but you must have this feeling of guilt deep inside you. Is it difficult to evacuate?

Yes, I have this feeling, but it comes less and less. I’m able to keep things in perspective. It was a long game, 100 minutes. I gave everything to the team. There is this unfortunate end, but for all that, the match was very decent. I was able to put things in perspective and not take all the guilt. It was just a kick.

So you’re not going to have too much trouble getting over it…

No. Right now I’m tired, but I just want to get back to the season, train and play. I know it will pass.

A big wave of support came from social networks, which are normally very harsh, after your failed attempt. Were you surprised?

Yes, very surprised. I thank them for that. It’s always nice to be supported. I received very, very few negative messages. I’ve had a few that were a bit funny and mocking, obviously. But that’s part of the game and part of rugby. I’ve had messages from former teammates who I played with in the U23s or Crabos. There are a lot of them that I didn’t get to see, I’ll see them later. There are really a lot of them, I was surprised. I received one from Romain Lonca, the first person concerned by the victory and my missed kick. It also shows that there is respect in rugby. It’s not new.

Your very good season surely explains that too…

Yes, I played a lot of games, I took part in a lot of the team’s successes, strong matches that will remain engraved forever. Afterwards, I think that the Bayonne public knows rugby, the way we train. They know the team, the personality of each player. They are kind to their players. We have to know how to give it back to them. At the time, I didn’t do it.

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