They spent their winter side by side walking on all the teams in Europe with the XV of France. They met face to face this Sunday, on neutral ground, at the Bollaert-Delelis stadium in Lens, for an undecided European Cup semi-final between Racing 92 and Stade Rochelais. The duel of the three-quarter international centers between Gaël Fickou and Jonathan Danty was one of the keys to this match. Like the meeting, it boiled down to tight, tense opposition, marked by a fierce defense but few big flights and a lot of inaccuracies.
In this game, Gaël Fickou (28 years old, 71 selections) first made his experience speak. A footwork well felt behind the back of his opponent of the day to occupy the field allows Racing 92 to obtain a nice touch, which results in a penalty and the opener of Nolann Le Garrec. Thanks to the management of its captain, Racing is doing well in a first period where the Sky and White were generally dominated.
Shaken from the start by a big tackle from Ibrahim Diallo, Jonathan Danty (29 years old, 16 caps) suffered more at the start of the match. And it is even his other vis-à-vis in the center and competitor in the French team Virimi Vakatawa, who shines by scoring the first try for Racing 92. We saw Fickou and Danty fight for the ball in a regrouping, each trying to push the other back into his camp. One of the rare direct confrontations between the two former teammates at Stade Français.
“We have a lot of regrets”
In the good La Rochelle period, in the second half when the Maritimes evolved to 15 against 13 after Racing's two yellow cards, Jonathan Danty again recovered balls in the regroupings, as we have seen a lot do with the 'French team. And the Maritimes ended up going ahead in the score shortly before the hour mark.
Gaël Fickou then wanted to regulate the game of Ciel et Blanc in vain, in a match that got a little crazy with a lot of errors on both sides, it was finally Jonathan Danty, with a last charge near the lines that put his partners in the advance two minutes from the end. After a pick and go series, West seals the La Rochelle victory. Gaël Fickou, on one knee, will not win the European Cup this year.
“We were too undisciplined, raged Fickou at the end of the match at the microphone of France 2. We have lost against them two or three times, we have not been able to conclude our actions. We have a lot of regrets, we deserved more this afternoon. »