The historic scrum-half of MHR Benoît Paillaugue (2009-2022) could return this summer to Hérault, a year before the end of his contract with the RCT.
The darling is very close to a return. Benoit Paillaugue (35), under contract with Toulon until 2024, could finally return to the MHR this summer. As we announced in these columns, the scrum-half could strengthen the Montpellier staff next season. If a return to the fold was in any case planned in a year, the Hérault management would have convinced the player of an imminent arrival.
Nothing is signed yet, but the two parties are on the same wavelength and Toulon is not closed to such a scenario. Paillaugue would also end on a good note since he has just won the European Challenge with the RCT, his third title in three years (2 Challenge, 1 Brennus).
The profile of Benoît Paillaugue also seems to suit what the staff is trying to put in place. His attachment to the club is typically what management seeks to establish.
Close to Elissalde
However, its role remains to be determined. If he comes to join the Hérault, the “Straw” should not have responsibilities like a Alexander Ruizcurrent assistant coach in charge of several areas (defense, discipline, attitudes in contact, ruck, etc.) and on the way to becoming number 1 in Soyaux-Angoulême. A link mission between the hopeful and professional group is under study, with why not some tasks to manage in skills and footwork, which Bruce Reihana currently occupies but whose future at the club is uncertain.
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Paillaugue also has the advantage of having excellent relations with Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, the head coach of the MHR and whose responsibilities will be shared with Richard Cockerill for the next exercise.
And if, in addition to a coaching mission, Paillaugue helped out as a player, a bit like Rory Kockott did last season with Castres? With a Cobus Reinach who should play the World Cup with South Africa this fall (September 8-October 28) and Gela Aprasidze left to play in the colors of Bayonne, this scenario is not completely absurd. They will also only be three valid scrum-half, in any case as it stands, at the start of the next school year: Léo Coly (23 years old), Aubin Emery (21 years old) and Martin Doan (24 years old, return from loan). A touch of experience would not be too much to supervise these three young players.
The call of the heart
The staff of the MHR would then begin to take shape. If Philippe Saint-André is tipped to become vice-president of the club, the Elissalde-Cockerill tandem should take charge of the athlete. The latter will also be in charge of the forwards, managed temporarily (and successfully) by Joan Caudullo since the beginning of November and the departure of Olivier Azam. Caudullo is going to return to the training center where he should work hand in hand with Paillaugue, therefore.
If the departure of Alexandre Ruiz seems almost official, a doubt about the presence of Bruce Reihana remains for next season. Everything should become clear after the match against Pau on Sunday (9 p.m.), the last day of the regular phase of the Top 14.
Arrived in Montpellier in 2009, Paillaugue played 275 matches with the MHR and knew everything until the Grail, the Shield of Brennus, last June. He had launched a final challenge on the Rade last summer. But the call from his heart club might be far too tempting.