PARIS, FRANCE – Before we talk rugby, we hope this finds you and yours safe and sound. While this reporter is in Paris, our RWU headquarters is located square in the eye of Hurricane Sandy in NYC, so we understand what those of you in its path are dealing with… But we know you’re tough – you’re into rugby – so let’s take a break from all that and get to today’s subject; the Top 14.
Of all the rivalries existing in the Top14, the one between the two Stades – Stade Français Paris and Stade Toulousain – might be the fiercest. Or at least it used to be. The Men In Pink from the capital have indeed repeatedly failed to match their old foe, so the games between Paris and Toulouse have since lost their interest. And certainly this clash in the Stade de France lacked the weight of the jousts of yesteryear. Before Stade Français failed to qualify for the playoffs, they used to play against Toulouse in games to remember… The semi-finals of 2008, 2006 and 2005, and the Heineken Cup final of 2005, won by Toulouse.
Led by experienced players like their legendary captain (and XV de France’s new captain but unfortunately-failed presidential candidate) lock Pascal Papé, and Italian #8 Sergio Parisse or scrum-half Jerome Fillol, Paris has showed some good rugby earlier in the season.
As for Toulouse, they had to rearrange the team because of last weekend’s Thierry Dusautoir’s injury against Treviso and Christoper Tolofua’s suspension. He was guilty of a spear tackle in the same match. With their other hookers injured, new forwards coach and former player William Servat (a.k.a. “La Bûche” – “The Log”), put the cleats on again.
The game featured awesome moves by each team, but time stood still as Paris took the win. The Parisians were more ambitious and daring, especially in money time. Parisian Waisea Nayacalevu, center Geoffrey Doumayrou and #8 Parisse all had a blast. Edwin Maka and winger Vincent Clerc scored magnificent tries for Toulouse, but it wasn’t enough.
Stade Français 28 – 24 Stade Toulousain
Other games featured difficult weather conditions. Lots of rain, wind and cold, which explains the lack of tries and low scores this weekend… Except for Toulon.
Nobody has been able to stop Toulon. They’ve scored 8 tries, with three for the brothers Delon (1) & Steffon Armitage (2). Bayonne obviously traveled with the intention of doing… nothing.
Toulon 59 – 0 Aviron Bayonnais
In their stronghold of Marcel Michelin, the Clermontois won a 49th game in a row, defeating Biarritz. Despite the bonus point, it’s a fifth defeat in a row for the Basques. It seems Imanol Harinordoquy and Dimitri Yachvili can’t come back soon enough.
ASM Clermont Auvergne 19 – 12 Biarritz Olympique
For the first time in its history, Castres came back from Armandie with a win. Their hosts did not even claim the bonus point.
SU Agen Lot&Garonne 14 – 22 Castres Olympique
With 6 Argentinian internationals coming back from the 4 Nations (The Rugby Championship), Montpellier showed their worth. With their very surprising guest, Grenoble, they displayed the Montpellier we liked in the past seasons. They punished Grenoble. It started with #8 Alex Tulou, whose rush mashed through Grenoble’s defense for a try.
Fast forward to the 2 minute mark:
In the relegation battle, there was a deciding game for Union Bordeaux-Bèlges at already condemned Stade Montois. The Montois, let’s remember, only claimed one bonus point in the past 8 games. So the UBB needed to leave the pitch of Guy & André Boniface with a win. They did – even if they had to struggle. Mont-de-Marsan did earn their second bonus point of what looks to be a very long season for them.
Mont-de-Marsan 12 – 17 Union Bordeaux-Bègles
Finally, USA Perpignan and Racing-Metro clashed and despite great effort from the Racingmen, the Catalans held fast in their stronghold of Aimé Giral.
USAP 17- 13 Racing Métro.
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