PARIS, FRANCE – In November 2010, Australia’s Wallabies wrecked France’s Les Bleus in a not-so-Paris-chic 59-16 slaughter. In fact, the last time France beat Australia was in 2005… But all that changed this past Saturday in the first weekend of the November Internationals.
Commanded by Parisian lock Pascal Papé (Thierry Dusautoir is injured), France was at its best and played some great rugby. Three tries (#8 Picamoles, a penalty try and center Fofana) were scored by the XV de France. The French front row – Mas/Szwarzeski/Forrestier – mashed its Australian counterpart… Next investment for the Wallabies? How about a scrum machine?
When the Aussies did mount an attack, the French defence was outstanding. The Wallabies were unable to find gaps between the two centers, Mermoz and Fritz. It was a true thrashing: France 33-6 Australia.
By the way, the 2012 November Tours have unusual stakes. The first four nations in the IRB rankings will head pools in the 2015 RWC. France is fighting to get the fourth position. These are the rankings after last weekend:
1) New Zealand
2) South Africa
The fight for the fourth seed – and qualifying for an easier pool – will obviously be between France and England. France will play Argentina and Samoa, while England meets Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. This Saturday, France hosts Argentina. Los Pumas will be a tough, as they beat the Welsh in Wales.
Now on to the French Top 14… A LOT of internationals (important players) were with their respective National Teams this weekend. Still, the leaders have benches deep enough to start competitive teams.
The leader Toulon, played at Clermont. Two tries were scored by Clermont (Nalaga and King) and Jonny Wilkinson scored six penalties including a game-tying drop goal with a minute left to play. But a draw and some positive thoughts to take home with them were not in the cards, as Toulon’s Australian center Matt Giteau intentionally slapped the following kickoff at the siren into touch. This enabled fellow Aussie – fly-half Brock James – to kick a game-winning penalty. Clermont 24-21 Toulon
Montpellier at Toulouse: International wing/fullback Maxime Médard was making his big comeback after the severe injury he suffered against Scotland last February. He scored, along with Matanavou, and Toulouse won pretty easily. Toulouse 27-9 Montpellier
Biarritz hosted Perpignan and the main news for the Basques was the return of their own messiah, Dimitri Yachvili, who was coming back after a three-month layoff for a back injury. In the rain (“If there is green in the Basque flag, it’s because it rains a lot here.” an old Basque once told me), Yachivli – The Basque Santa – scored five penalties to give a much needed win to Biarritz. Biarritz 15-3 USAP
The two Parisian clubs played home and had easy prey as Stade Français hosted Agen and Racing Metro had Mont-de-Marsan in; a team still seeking its first win.
Stade Français won against the team coached by Mathieu Blin , who played thirteen years for Paris. And THE BIG NEWS… an awesome surprise in Colombes – Mont-de-Marsan won its first game this year!!! True story !
Stade Français 20-13 Agen
Racing-Métro 16-17 Mont-de-Marsan
Grenoble remained undefeated at home, winning 9-6 against Bayonne, and UBB is still in great danger of relegation as they lost at the last minute against Castres 13-16.