EHF European Cup

PAUC want to make the most of group phase debut

Kevin Domas / ew

PAUC want to make the most of group phase debut

In their first ever European season last year, Pais d’Aix Univesité Club Handball just failed to make it to the group phase, falling to eventual EHF Cup Finals participants TTH Holstebro.

But this year PAUC have qualified for the group phase after edging French league rivals Chambery by a single goal over the two legs of the decisive qualifying round.

With a roster full of experience and ambition, the French side aims for the quarter-final.

Three questions before the Men’s EHF Cup group phase:

- What about the European Cup experience of PAUC players?

While PAUC are only in their second EHF Cup season, no less than eight players from the team have played in the VELUX EHF Champions League in the past with other clubs. And two of them even won men’s club handball’s most coveted trophy: Vid Kavticnik and Baptiste Bonnefond with Montpellier HB in 2018. Nicolas Claire also took part in the VELUX EHF FINAL4 2018, with HBC Nantes. “That’s one of the reasons we signed them last summer. Because they are talented, but also because theyu bring some experience to the team,” says coach Jérôme Fernandez.

- What kind of playing style brings coach Jérôme Fernandez?

With a past of six seasons at Barça and Ciudad Real, the all-time top scorer of the French national team has been well influenced by the Spanish style of play. Even more so this season, with the arrival of assistant coach Eduard Roura, who played the Champions League final with Atletico Madrid in 2012. No wonder PAUC are relying heavily on line players with strong connections to the back court.

- What can PAUC achieve this season?

Much will depend on the question if PAUC can rotate enough. The starting line-up has more than enough quality to make the step to the quarter-final but the squad is not broad and the team could fall short when it needs contributions from the bench. How Jérôme Fernandez will be able to help the substitutes, such as Noah Gaudin or Morten Bjornshauge, increase their level will be interesting to watch.

Under the spotlight: Nicolas Claire

The former Champions League finalist with Nantes signed with PAUC in the summer of 2019 and he has already got the keys to the castle. The centre back is a natural-born leader and most of the on-court action goes through him. It is definitely the team’s strength, but also a risk as PAUC might want to find additional ways to set up their attacks.


Since their promotion to the French first division in 2012, PAUC have been dreaming big. “For sure, Berlin look like a favourite in this group. They have a better team and much more experience than we do. But we think we can finish second and qualify for the quarter-final,” Fernandez says. In a few years, PAUC hope to be in the Champions League. To underline their ambitions, PAUC are adding another big-name player from next season as William Accambray will be joining from Meshkov Brest.

Fun fact

With nine players from abroad (three Slovenians, three Spaniards, two Danes and one player from Ivory Coast), PAUC are an interesting international blend. However, the club has announced it might focus more on French talents in the near future.

What the numbers say

Eight is the number of titles Jérôme Fernandez won with France in his playing career. He carried on playing while coaching from 2015 to 2017, but meanwhile he is fully focusing on his coaching duties. With his broad experience, Fernandez is a big help for young players who want to develop. Former PAUC player Aymeric Minne, who moved to Nantes last summer, once said he moved to Aix mainly to be able to play with Fernandez.


#Mondaymotivation • #ALL4PAUC

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PAUC Handball (FRA)

Qualification for Men’s EHF Cup group phase: 64:46 vs RK Porec (CRO) in R2, 44:43 vs Chambery Savoie Mont Blanc Handball (FRA) in R3

Newcomers: Vid Kavticnik, Baptiste Bonnefond (Montpellier), Nicolas Claire (Nantes), Oriol Rey (Nice), Noah Gaudin (Cesson-Rennes, back from loan)

Left the club: Yanis Lenne (Montpellier), Juan Andreu Candau (Limoges), Philip Stenmalm (Wisla Plock), Tim Dalhaus (Bietigheim)

Coach: Jérôme Fernandez (since 2015)

Team captain: Iosu Goni Leoz

Opponents in the group phase: Grundfos Tatabánya KC (HUN), Füchse Berlin (GER), BM Logroño La Rioja (ESP) in group D

European Cup records:

EHF Cup:
Qualification (1): 2018/19

French league: -
French cup: -

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