Rugby: in Bordeaux-Bègles, Christophe Urios still tells his stories of men

With him, the right word is always sure. He points in the speech of Christophe Urios, the manager of the Union Bègles-Bordeaux, in a flood that rolls like his accent from the southwest: overflowing. Before the Top 14 semi-final against Stade Toulouse, Saturday June 19, the pearl arrives to ensure the ambition of his team: ” As Elon Musk says, “It’s possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary”… There you have it, that’s the idea. To beat Toulouse, you have to be extraordinary.

The reference to the boss-billionaire of the company SpaceX is not anecdotal. Embark his world to touch the stars, work, convince, this is what occupies Christophe Urios, full time on the human management of his group. “Me, my job is to create this atmosphere around the club, in the team, which makes us move forward, with a common project”, did he just confide in Olympic noon. An alchemy to be found, which he also testifies in his book co-written in 2020, 15 leadership lessons – management as much as rugby -, placed under the motto of the All Blacks, “Being better never stops”.

Player, already a perfectionist

Christophe Urios, always in search of innovation and perfection. He was like that already a player. Not the most gifted of the gang, the hooker from Carcassonne in the 1980s, then from Castres the following decade, but, as his teammates at the time testify, the most relentless in training. We nickname him “the rustic”, so what? He was rewarded with a title of champion of France with Castres (in 1993), and a retraining without thinking about it but ultimately obvious. After putting away the crampons, Christophe Urios could have taken over the family vineyard in the Minervois, with his oenology diploma in the luggage. But no. His father was angry about it for a long time, but rugby won.

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Because the good man was reading, and in particular the Fundamentals of modern rugby (1994) by Pierre Conquet, a former Carcassonne and Racing winger who became a great oval theorist. The apostle of combat rugby nourishes the appetite for knowledge of an apprentice trainer Urios with the hopes of Castres, then the young people of the training center, then the guys of the pro team in the first half of the 2000s. fold is taken. Christophe Urios had not premeditated it, but he is a coach. A career well launched?

The collective above all

Not so sure. It begins with bitterness and nasty pills to swallow. Castres who sacked him in 2005, then two years at Bourgoin-Jallieu where he failed to forge this strong relationship with the players that he loved. He is on the verge of stopping. But a proposal comes from the Pro D2 club of Oyonnax. He signed for a 7-year adventure, which established his reputation. He takes the club to the Top 14 by transcending men, the famous “Oyomen”.

Experience builds it. He returned to Castres in 2015 for a new challenge, with an air of revenge. Three years later, he won the national title, as a leader of men, big mouth and big heart. The following year, rather than resting on his laurels, he announced his departure after the end of the season. Bad idea. His demobilized troops are unrecognizable and finish seventh. “Ineligible” sportingly, judge the boss, who will comment: “We acted like bastards”.

With his ease, it goes, but with some, it breaks. The leaders of Castres do not all mourn his departure, sometimes judging his self-centered swerves. He bounces back in Bordeaux, with a new “project” since that’s what fascinates him: taking the time to build. This time, however, he is going very quickly. The Bègles-Bordeaux Union was in the lead in 2020 when the Covid prematurely sounded the end of the game. This year, the team reaches the European semi-final and will therefore play this semi-final in the Top 14 on Saturday. Nice course.

Back to the roots

Christophe Urios savors. But it would put an end to the series of the neighbor of the Garonne, three times victorious this year (twice in Top 14 and in the continental semi-finals), just to nail the beak to the master of playing “Red and Black”, Ugo Mola, with whom he willingly scrapes verbally, the latter accentuating the opposition between his movement rugby more shimmering than the confrontation rugby of Christophe Urios. The question of style is however no longer quite relevant, the UBB playing a more unbridled game than the previous clubs of Christophe Urios. Proof that it can adapt while remaining efficient.

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As we get older, it is not excluded that Christophe Urios, 55, will improve further. Like a good wine, he who took advantage of the break from confinement to return to his roots by buying the wine estate where his father was manager during his childhood. A family story, his two brothers and his wife investing a lot in it. It’s always the same with him. The “Fair balance between valuing the collective and motivating individually”. In the field as in life. He’s doing it pretty well.


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