22 September 2018 - 17h25
The former Italy fly-half joined AS Monaco Rugby, this summer, where he is coaching the first team’s backs. His players return to the field on 7th October, and Luciano Orquera talked to La Gazette de Monaco about the new chapter of his life that he is getting ready to start.
Our appointment was a week earlier, at the facilities of ASM Rugby’s new stadium, a few minutes before a training session he was preparing to run with Sylvain Masson, who coaches the forwards. At 6:30 p.m., as scheduled, Luciano Orquera joined us holding a bag of rugby balls: “We can do the interview on the playing field, if you want”. Logically, this is where he feels best, this former fly-half who played with the Italian national team (48 caps) and his various clubs across the world. His kicking and unselfishness also led him to play in the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, rugby’s holy ground. Once his career as a player had finally ended, the 37-year-old Italo-Argentinian (his birthday is in the middle of October) moved to the other side of the field. Over the course of a little less than half an hour, Luciano Orquera opened up his memory box and explained his playing philosophy, without ever kicking into touch.
How did your arrival on AS Monaco Rugby’s bench come about?
I was initially in contact with the Club Secretary, Christian Baldacchino, and then with the President, Thomas Rique. I had already had a few discussions with my predecessor, Ludovic Chambriard (Editor’s note: he became the General Manager of Saint-Claude, which plays in Fédérale 3, in June). AS Monaco Rugby offered me the position, and I accepted it happily.
What pushed you towards this first experience as a coach?
It’s a great challenge for me, and what’s more in a club with big ambitions. The context was perfect as an opening. (He thinks) I had some great experiences as a player, and to have the chance to transmit everything I’ve learned during my career was something that interested me. I had the opportunity to coach Under 12s at the Sainte-Dévote tournament, and I found it an interesting experience.
Has this desire to teach always been clear to you?
The idea of coaching interested me, but I didn’t really know if I would like it. I always see people doing certain things without taking into account the little details that still need improvement. I want to help other people. It’s this apprenticeship that I like, even more so when you see the results week after week.
The season officially starts on 7th October. Are you feeling a little apprehensive?
No, not especially. On the contrary. I already want to be in Marseille on 7th October at 3:00 p.m. for the start of the championship. (He smiles) Sylvain Masson and I are a team. We’re trying to make our players work well, and we feel that they trust us. We need to see the results and analyse the games throughout the season.
What type of game do you want to put in place?
In our training sessions, we have restricted the areas of the field for attacking, and, conversely, the areas where we cannot attack. Only a few small game structures have been put in place, always with a variety of options. If we manage to implement it, people will like this style of play.
What are its foundations?
The fly-half and the scrum-half will manage the games, and will have multiple options, to play both a narrow game and a wide game. We always want to give the person who is running the game a number of different opportunities. (He gestures with his hands) We want the centres to be very involved, and we also want the wings and the three-quarters to show a lot of movement over the whole pitch. Even the forwards will be used the same way. This is the idea, but as we know, there’s also defence, the combat. Because I played in Fédérale 2, I know that some teams will give us trouble with quick movements. We will adapt. We will always need to perform if we want to implement this game.
Will the reserve team play with the same system?
Yes. We’re trying to maintain the basics of our game plan, so that we can use players who already know the system and will be able to make a contribution without feeling lost, if we need to.
Has the preparation reached your expectations?
We organized a period of training in Italy, not only to play, but also to make team cohesion easier. Some players joined the club this summer, and it was important to integrate them into the group properly. We worked all day, and then a small party was organized in the evening to strengthen the ties.
How do you judge your team?
Good. I think it’s a team that has the right qualities for the Honneur level. I’m not familiar with this Division, and I still need to find out about it, but from what I can see in training for my team, it’s not bad.
What targets have you set?
Obviously, we’re looking to be promoted to Fédérale 3. Personally, I hope we will get results from what we’re doing. Getting positive results from what we ask the players to do will be very interesting. I also hope to learn a lot, because I’m just starting out in coaching. I hope I’ll be aware of any errors during the year, so that I will be able to improve my new role.
Fittingly, you played for a lot of coaches in your career. Which has left the biggest impression on you?
(Laughs) I could draw up a great list! I’ve known several types of coach, with different approaches. I liked Jacques Brunel, who managed me in the Italian team, a lot. The same goes for Olivier Magne, when I was at Brive in 2007/2008. He was a very good player, and he helped me a lot at the time. But maybe Jacques Brunel had a clearer message.
Is he the one you feel closest to?
I love the way he taught, and I understood what he was expecting. I tried to apply his suggestions well, and sometimes got good results. I had other club coaches, but maybe Olivier Magne was the one I got along with best. There was also Ugo Mola and Tim Lane, a lot of coaches. But I learned the most from Jacques Brunel. He taught me a great deal.
What can you bring to your players?
There’s only one rugby story. Transmitting this passion also means transmitting certain human values. Working, having a lot of discipline and respect for others, and knowing that nothing can be taken for granted. It’s up to you to look for what you really want. You need to work hard to reach your objectives and become someone.
Values you take from your own experience at a high level?
Yes, it helped me a lot. I already knew that nothing was easy in life. You need to be ready for every game, because there’s someone else behind you pushing to take your place. You realize that there are a lot of different parameters, such as a healthy way of life. The message to keep in mind is that without discipline you can lose everything. And this can happen very quickly.
You played in France for a long time. What influence did the French game have on you?
It was always a flowing game. I also developed in Pro12 and Pro14 with Anglo-Saxon teams, where there was more structure. Having this experience allowed me to compare the two and adapt my game as a result.
Is the victory over the French team in 2013 your greatest memory?
It might have been my best match, yes. (He smiles) The Six Nations Tournament is another of my great memories. I always found it much more interesting than the World Cup.
Can you tell me more?
There’s a great atmosphere at every game, and the grounds are full. The World Cup only becomes interesting from the quarter-finals on. The crowds are not very big before the direct elimination phases. In the same way, playing in Brive for five years, I became very attached to the town, which lived and breathed rugby. When I went out, I talked to the fans. I was recognized. When you feel attached to a town, perhaps you give a little more when you’re playing. I was well integrated: I played for the club, but I was also playing for the town.
Do you still keep an eye on Italy’s results, the team you played for for 11 years?
Yes, certainly. The first Six Nations Tournament and the first matches I watched after my retirement were very hard. I said to myself: “I was there a few months ago, and here I am sitting on the sofa”. There’s a whole routine you miss – the hotel, the week before the game – but it passes. It took a little time, and then I became a real fan. I also went to see the game against France in Marseille last February.
The end of a career is often likened to a “small death of the athlete”. Is it a brutal break?
It depends. Yes, because you feel that you are on a downward slope, and you need to accept that you’re no longer at the same level. If you accept this destiny, it’s already easier than if a serious injury deprives you of the thing you love. When you arrive at the end of your cycle, it’s a totally normal thing. I had this feeling myself. I understood that I was no longer at the same level, and that I was in the right mind to leave my place to more highly motivated young players. Everyone must have their chance. I had mine years ago. It’s a cycle.
You were born and grew up in Argentina. Did the possibility of playing for the Pumas cross your mind?
My maternal grandparents were Italian, and I have dual nationality. I took part in observation training courses for the Under 19s with Argentina, I think. There were some very good players. I was selected a few times, but I was never taken. I was also selected for seven-a-sides a few times. Then I had the chance to leave, and I have absolutely no regrets.
What image of Luciano Orquera as a player do you hope you have left the fans?
I always gave what I could and tried to have fun on the field. I always wanted to be positive and happy. I hope people took pleasure from watching me on the field. In any event, I always loved to play.
Jérémie Bernigole et Délia Dupouy
Photo Principale ©RC
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