Rouen Dragons strike a historic quarter-final in the Champions League

In recent weeks, Red Bull Salzburg has put a smile on the French teams. In football, first of all, Lille scored their first victory at home in the Champions League since 2006 against an Austrian club on 23 November. Above all, the next day, in ice hockey, Rouen Dragoons won their place in the quarter-finals of the CHL (Champions Hockey League) despite their loss (3–1) in Austria, thanks to their big win in the first. Legs (3-0). On Tuesday, 7 December (6pm), they travel to Tempere (Finland) to face Tappara Club for the first leg (return on 14 December).

The performance of Rouen hockey players is not anecdotal. Conversely, it is historic for French hockey, as it is the first time that a French team has reached the quarter-finals of the biggest European club competition. “I’ve been president of this club for twenty-five years, I never thought about it, it was so unattainable, Thierry Chaix agrees. It’s historic and I’m not sure it will happen again anytime soon. Players were ranked ninth after the game. “In the locker room, we all helped each other realize what we had just done, Confirms French defender and international Florian Chakiachvili (29). It is one of the defining moments of his career. ,

If this performance is so common, it is because the two clubs do not actually play on the same court. When the Austrians first landed in Normandy in a private plane, Rouen Dragoon crossed Europe by bus. Only the staff traveled by commercial aircraft to leave more room for the players on the bus for this long journey. “an obstacle course”, summarizes Thierry Cheux. According to the Norman president, the difference between the two clubs is also illustrated by the abysmal difference between the budgets: 3.5 million euros for Rouen, or almost four times less than Salzburg.

A European Cup of Culture

Unlike the continental scale where he still looks like Tom Thumb, Rouen represents a historic club of French hockey excellence. With 16 national titles, the Dragons are second only to Chamonix, their last of 30 titles as of 1979. At the European level, Rouenese play a leading role. “We have this culture of the European Cup, these are competitions that we know how to prepare well, understand well, we are no longer afraid”glide Thierry Chicks.

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About the Author: Piers Parker

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