In PSL rugby, there is a real collective spirit: we are linked by the passion for sport


The 5th edition of the PSL Rugby Trophy took place on February 3rd at Carpentier Stadium. This annual meeting with UCL (University College of London) resulted in a double PSL victory for the women's (17-5) and men's (41-31) teams. The following interview is with PSL-Sport rugby professor, José Machado, and Paul Deshays, sports director at PSL and part of the team.

L'équipe de rugby prête pour le PSL Rugby Trophy

      Left to right: José Machado, Manon, Paul Deshays, Mathilde, Lise Ortillon, Lucas and Paul P.

PSL wins the PSL Rugby Trophy again! On the occasion of the meeting with UCL, interview with José Machado, PSL-Sport Rugby Professor, Paul Deshays, Sports Director at PSL, Camille Berdou, president of AS-PSL, players Manon, Mathilde and Lucas, members of the student athletics organization (BDS) at Chimie ParisTech-PSL and Paul, a student playing rugby at ENS-PSL and PSL.

Can you tell us the origin of this annual meeting, which is celebrating its fifth edition this Saturday, between PSL and UCL (University College of London)?

José: This project was born in 2012, during the first call for student initiatives, when students from ESPCI Paris-PSL came to me and proposed a launch of a rugby tournament, that could possibly take place abroad. With Paul Deshays, Sports Director at PSL, we imagined an event that could unite our players by giving them the opportunity to play together on the same team. The practice of inter-school rugby matches already existed before PSL was created. ESPCI Paris-PSL and ENS-PSL were already playing together, as well as Chimie ParisTech-PSL, MINES ParisTech-PSL and ENC-PSL as well. These activities enabled us to launch the first related PSL events.

But why with UCL?

José: For a very pragmatic reason: PSL has signed its first international partnership with UCL. I thought it would be easier to set up this event at the administrative and logistical levels. Much simpler anyway, than with other schools like Stanford, for example. But we are very attached to the format of this meeting. It is original: in addition to games, a conference is given to the players by a prominent scientist on a subject related to sport. This is the big asset of these encounters.

How do prepare for this meeting?

José: Our players have a solid foundation, which allows them to win without having trained together all year long. In 2017, the women's rugby team beat the English, who nevertheless, play all year long together! For training, we play with seven players and the match enables us to include more players, like those of Paris Dauphine-PSL for example, to play with 15 students. All of them train together two afternoons before the game, it's "one shot,” but it's a very unifying event.

We did a lot of work so that PSL could be represented on the jerseys of the teams within the schools & institutes as well. Thanks to all these developments, the AS-PSL was ranked 2nd sports association of France in 2017.

Why not make more annual meetings?

Paul D.: For the moment these meetings must remain occasional. Each institution has its own identity, we’re not replacing the existing student athletics organizations (BDS) who already set up their own events.
José: Looking ahead, we would, for example, clearly want to wear the PSL flag everywhere internationally! It will surely come one day, but not right away. The key issue is the lack of infrastructure, especially for the individual athletics clubs within each PSL school & institute. PSL is a key factor because, unlike each club, PSL contacts remain the same from one year to another. When applying for a stadium or gymnasium at the City of Paris, for example, we are are clearly identified. For this meeting, we have the support of the Departmental Rugby Committee of Paris, the local representative body of the French Rugby Federation, and the Regional Committee for student Sport, which provides its best referees, and also a partnership with the BRED Grandes Ecoles bank.

What is the particularity of rugby within PSL?

Manon: The coaching. José is a coach who follows us a lot, there is a real team spirit. As a student, you need strong coaching to see more interest than simply going to the sport once a week. Basically, to see a collective interest and not individual. To be together in the competition.
José: Our players have the particularity to be good at the academic level, since they are in large institutions at PSL, and to be good at the sporting level, since we are dealing with very good players who are strong on the field! Then there is a real continuity in PSL rugby. Many of our players continue with us several years in a row. Sport has to be one of the unifying elements of the community and our players are all motivated.

About students: how did you know PSL Sport, and specifically, rugby?

Manon: At Chimie ParisTech-PSL, it happens a lot by word of mouth, we have a friend of a friend who is aware already, and invites us to try, so it happens naturally. It is even sometimes other students that come to see us and promote it.
Lucas: For me, it’s been the 3rd year that they came to invite me to join the team.
Mathilde: PSL is the only way we have at Chimie ParisTech-PSL to play sports. As in many other schools, we do not have connected structures at school, so we go directly through PSL.
Manon: Through Chimie ParisTech-PSL, we hear a lot about PSL. In addition, if we want information, we receive the schedule at the beginning of the year.
Paul P.: At ENS-PSL, there is more turn out, because there is already an existing team.

With such a diversity of profiles from PSL schools & institutes within the teams, such matches are enriching experiences as students, aren’t they?

José: You have to know that in the field, we are all PSL. We do not always know which school or institute each player comes from, so we consider everyone community. We play rugby, we are linked by the passion for sport, first and foremost.
Camille: Yes, and if we take other sports than rugby, like women's football, for example, it is because of PSL that these teams exist. We are too scattered, not numerous enough to form a single team in each school. Moreover, the students understood it well: during one of the student meetings with the PSL Student Union, the students expressed their desire for further sporting events every year.

Isn’t there a PSL-Sport jersey today?

José: The PSL-Sport jersey has been designed to represent all PSL schools & institutes. Hence the mosaic of colors!
Manon: We all wear this shirt, we see it on the players and volleyball players too.
Paul D.: We did a lot of work so that PSL could be represented on the jerseys of each school team as well. For example, the ENS team has become ENS-PSL, ESPCI Paris is now ESPCI Paris-PSL and so on. Thanks to this teamwork, the AS-PSL was ranked 2nd sports association of France in 2017.

José is a coach who follows us a lot, there is a real team spirit. As a student, you need strong coaching to see more interest than simply going to the sport once a week. Basically, to see a collective interest and not individual.

A word to conclude?

Paul D: We are delighted that Alain Fuchs, President of PSL and former rugby player, will open the games this Saturday. PSL Sports has a great dynamic. This first meeting gave rise to other annual sporting events like PSL Fencing, then at the end of January 2018, we had the first tennis tournament with UCL in London, and in the future, there will be similar meetings abroad for football ...
Manon and Mathilde: We will conclude with our motto before game: "We're a damn great team!"
José: In a few years, at least 2000 people in a stadium will support our players, shouting "Go PSL! (Laughs). Until then, we invite you to come and watch on Saturday at Carpentier Stadium: admission is free and open to all!

L'équipe féminine de rugby PSL championnes 17 à 5 vs équipe UCL

Les étudiants, comment ont-ils connu PSL Sport, et spécifiquement le rugby ?

Manon :  A Chimie ParisTech-PSL, ça se passe beaucoup par le bouche à oreille, on a un ami ou une amie qui en fait déjà, qui nous propose d’essayer, ça se fait naturellement. C’est même parfois les étudiants des promos d’avant qui viennent nous voir.
Lucas : Moi, par exemple, ce sont les 3e année qui sont venus me proposer d’intégrer l’équipe. 
Mathilde : PSL, c’est le seul moyen qu’on a à Chimie ParisTech-PSL pour faire du sport. Comme dans plusieurs autres écoles, on n’a pas de structures à l’école, du coup on passe directement par PSL.
Manon : Puis à Chimie ParisTech-PSL, on entend beaucoup parler de PSL. Et en plus, si on veut l’info, on reçoit le planning en début d’année.
Paul P. : A l’ENS-PSL, ça tourne plus, car il y a déjà une équipe normalienne.

Une telle diversité d’établissements au sein des équipes, ça doit être enrichissant en tant qu’étudiant, non ? 

José : Il faut savoir que sur le terrain, on est tous PSL. On ne sait pas toujours de quel établissement vient tel joueur ou telle joueuse, on part du principe qu’on est tous de la même communauté. On joue du rugby, on est liés par le sport avant tout.
Camille : Oui, et si on prend d’autres sports que le rugby, comme le football féminin, par exemple, c’est grâce à PSL que les équipes existent. On est trop éparpillées, pas suffisamment nombreuses pour former une seule équipe dans chaque école. D’ailleurs, les étudiants l’ont bien compris : lors d’une des consultations étudiantes faites par l’Union PSL, les étudiants souhaitaient qu’il y ait plus d’événements sportifs dans l’année.

Il y a aujourd’hui un maillot PSL-Sport d’ailleurs.

José : Le maillot de PSL-Sport a été pensé pour représenter tous les établissements de PSL. D’où la mosaïque de couleurs !
Manon : Nous on porte ce maillot au hand, on le voit sur les joueuses et joueurs de volley aussi.
Paul D. : On a fait un gros travail pour que PSL soit représenté sur les maillots des équipes des établissements aussi. Par exemple, l’équipe ENS est devenu ENS-PSL, ESPCI Paris, ESPCI Paris-PSL et ainsi de suite. Ce qui fait que grâce à ces évolutions, l’AS-PSL a été classé 2e association sportive de France en 2017.

José est un coach qui nous suit beaucoup, il y a un vrai esprit d’équipe. On a besoin, en tant qu’étudiant, d’un encadrement fort, de voir un intérêt plus important que d’aller simplement au sport une fois par semaine. En gros, d’y voir un intérêt collectif et pas individuel.

Un mot pour conclure ?

Paul D : On est ravis qu’Alain Fuchs, président de PSL et ancien rugbyman, vienne ouvrir les matchs ce samedi. On est à PSL sur une très bonne dynamique sportive. Cette première rencontre a donné lieu à plusieurs autres rencontres sportives annuelles comme le PSL Fencing (escrime), fin janvier 2018 a eu lieu le premier tournoi de tennis toujours avec UCL à Londres, on envisage de monter ce même type de rencontres à l’étranger avec le foot…

Manon et Mathilde : On va conclure par notre devise d’avant match : « Qu’est qu’on est une p***** d’équipe ! »
José :  …et dans quelques années, c’est au moins 2000 personnes dans un stade qui soutiendront nos joueurs au cri de « Allez PSL ! » (rires). D’ici là, on vous attend nombreux samedi au Stade Carpentier : l’entrée est gratuite et ouverte à tous !

L'équipe masculine de rugby PSL champions 41 à 31 vs équipe UCL