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For decades, the team captain, elected by his peers, often coached the team, taking charge of the sessions with the occasional help of an « elder » in practice.
The first actual Rochelais coach, Gustave Ecala, came from the 'Nautique de Bayonne' and lead his first training sessions in the Port-Neuf municipal stadium in August 1946. He was reunited with the 'Nautique' quartet who joined the rugby section of the ESCR. This quartet was comprised of Maurice Darraïdou, Lucien Garbay, Henri Placé and Arnaud Élissalde ; the Boucalais Jean Bégué, the Biarrot Maurice Gurruchategui and the Luziens Casals and Arruabarrena. Gustave’s approach was simple : « We are at home and you shall show for it, do you understand… ». Thanks to this basis and the team’s appetite for the game, Stade Rochelais quickly came up through the ranks and got to Federal division for two seasons.
In August of 1953 the Bayonnais coach left Stade Rochelais because his principles no longer aligned with the new club policies.
(Text written by Jean-Michel Blaizeau, historian)