Football: the adventure in the North of Les Rafettes

On the weekend of January 29 and 30, the Ruthénoises crossed the country for the knockout stages of the Coupe de France. A long journey of hours and kilometers, where we had reserved a seat. Reporting.

In sport, the eyes of the spectators only see the players between two whistles. But the group does not only live 90 minutes together, especially during such a long trip as that of the Rafettes in Calais, this weekend of January 29 and 30. And they didn’t cross the country for nothing, because the four goals they scored against the Northerners, Sunday, opened the doors to the quarter-finals of the Coupe de France. Enter the changing rooms of this adventure.

Late Saturday afternoon, the blood and gold were smiling when they saw the name of the hotel restaurant where they were going to spend the night: La compagnie. The same as the Ruthenian brasserie where they have their brunch on game days at home. “It’s a sign !”exclaimed Solène Champagnac.

After leaving Vabre at dawn and a ten-hour journey by bus and train, the sixteen players and their three supervisors finally set foot in Calais. “It was still better than the bus”whispered Marie-Morgane Sieber a.k.a MMS at the exit of the TGV in Lille, before boarding the last train of the day. And the icy wind on arrival in Calais brought back memories: “It feels like Trauc”remarked some.

Competition in the blood

A whole journey that did not fail to tire the group. So much so that Laurie Cance’s eyes were beginning to close by the end of the meal. A chat with Mathieu Rufié, the coach, later, and the Ruthénoises were able to find the rooms they shared together. “Usually, we do a video session to come back to the weak and strong points of the opponent, but today it’s special because the team plays in the Regional”, said Patrice Ranc, the assistant coach. But it’s not because the locals play a level below them that the Rafettes have underestimated them and lost their competitive spirit.

Already on Sunday morning in the hotel car park, the throwing of muscle awakening cones looked like a match. “Victor (Gayrard, the team’s physical trainer), you count us well the two points huh”, insisted Fiona Bogi, who teamed up with Canon, Champagnac and Sevenne. Once on the lawn of the Epic stadium, two hours before kick-off, the Ruthénoises gauged their opponents. “I love those moments, when we look at each other”smiled Champagnac.

While the 12,000-seat stadium was filling up, the Rafettes were preparing for the warm-up to music in the locker room. They also discovered the black jerseys they were going to wear… in a blood and gold enclosure, in the colors of the former Calais club. “ They can’t make us shirts in our size?launched Cance, it’s a boy’s size for sure. People will think I don’t have shorts.” Because in the Coupe de France, women have endowments that do not come close to those of boys: they are only entitled to a jersey, no shorts, no socks. Not to mention the financial envelope.

Patrick Sebastian

Whatever one thinks of the differences between women’s and men’s football, in Calais, the spectators came in large numbers: 1,436 people, in a stadium which let Rafettes imagine what the future Paul-Lignon would be like, a few thousand seats in more. “There was a lot more audience than for the boys”rejoiced Jean-Yves Taillefesse, president of Grand Calais Pascal.

And on the way back, the Raf staff laughed at the idea that the Ruthenian Kop could wait for them in Vabre. But the transfer to Lille, to the rhythm of the anthem of La Déryves, then the flight to Toulouse and the two hours by bus to Rodez, for an arrival at one o’clock in the morning on Monday, did not leave the blood and gold supporters the pleasure of welcoming them. It will be for the next one.

And if they approached the Coupe de France “taking the matches as they came”, as Mathieu Rufié pointed out before kick-off in the locker room, the Rafettes are more than ever in the race. Maybe the song they celebrated their victory on can take them a step further. Quoting Patrick Sébastien: “As long as it lasts, the great adventure.”

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