Tuesday, May 10, 2011

French Top 14 - Final Round

After the completion of the Top 14 regular season Bourgoin and La Rochelle will be relegated to the Pro d2 while Lyon have won promotion. The top two sides, Toulouse and Racing Metro have won themselves home semi-finals to play the winner of Clermont vs Biarritz and Castres vs Montpellier who will meet in playóffs next weekend. The contribution of Argentina to global rugby was again evident as Argentine players featured in every match. Canada, the United Staes and Uruguay were also all represented as the final round of the Top 14 Orange underlined the need to bring Rugby World Cup 2023 to Argentina.

Montpellier qualified for the play-off´s for the first time ever, and in doing so will play in the Heineken Cup for also for the first time ever. The mediterranean side had the rounds key match, vs Toulon at home with the winner qualifying for the play-off´s and the losing being eliminated. Montpellier had been having an outstanding season and were tipped to win the match but nobody would have imagined that theyn would have defeated Toulon by a scoreline of 27-3. It was a game to underline the smart purchasing of Montpellier who went for young, promising players to bolster ther squad while Toulon have been buying proven players. Uncapped Argentine winger, Martín Bustos Moyano scored the games first try and in total scored 17 points. he was joined by Pumas centre, Santiago Fernández who had a strong match while Pumas prop Juan Figallo was possible the best player on the park as he not only scrumaged very well but completed two turnovers. USA international centre, Seta Tuiveluka also started, at 13. The France vs England flyhalf battle of François Trinh-Duc vs Johnny Wilkinson saw the Frenchman clearly on top with Wilkinson having issues with his passes in both directions. This lead coach Saint Andre to erplace Wilkinson with Pumas international, Felipe Contepomi who created far more opportunities for Toulon´s backs but threw an interception pass which Trinh-Duc gladly accepted and raced away to set up a try. Toulon were captained by Argentine international backrower, Juan Fernández Lobbe.

The already relegated Bourgoin played their final home match in the Top 14 vs Biarritz and would not bow down easily as they made Biarritz work for their 22-18 win. In doing so, Biarritz secured a place in the play-off´s and next seasons Heineken Cup and will  face Clermont next weekend. Argentine international centre, Marcelo Bosch started again at 13 for Biarritz but dfid not have his most memorable match as he was yellow carded. Former Pumas frontrower, Eusebio Guiñazú came off the bench for Biarritz while uncapped Argentine centre, Matías Viazzo played flyhalf for Bourgoin and kicked eight points. USA Eagles international winger, Taku Ngwenya played 14 for Biarritz.

At the start of the season it appeatred that Agen would really struggle in the Top 14 but the sides return to the top flight in France has proven to be a success as the South-Western French side finished ahead of two historical sides, Stade Français and Brive. Agen´s impressive late run continued with a 36-10 victory over Brive which will mean nobody will be taking Agen likely next season. Former Argentine international centre, Miguel Avramovic came off the bench in the second half for US Agen while current Argentine test scrumhalf, Agustín Figuerola started in the 9 shirt for Brive and kicked a conversion. Former Argentine international props, Pablo Cardinali and Pablo Henn both started alongside Figuerola.

A low-scoring but highly important match took place in Toulouse with the home side facing Clermont. Both sides hasd already confirmed their places in the final 6 but depending on the outcome could have a number of scenarios for the play-off´s. A win would mean matches agaisnt lower ranked opposition for both sides and thus an easier path to the Top 14 Orange Final. Toulouse won the match 15-6 which gives them a week off while Clermont must regroup to host Biarritz in a play-off match this coming weekend. Argentina international secondrower, Patricio Albacete put in another trademark performance for Toulouse while his fellow Pumas teammates, Martín Scelzo and Mario Ledesma were both secondhalf replacement for Clermont. Canadian international secondrower, Jamie Cudmore played with the Pumas duo in the Clermont pack

ASM : Résumé du match à Toulouse por asm
The battle of Paris brought an end to the highly unsuccessful campaign of Stade Français this season. The former glory team finished in 11th place, behind teams including Agen and Bayonne - simply unthinkable at the start of the season. Stade Français´ Top 14 Orange misery continued as Racing Metro defeated their Parisian rivals 29-16. The result means Racing Metro have next week off with the luxury of advancing directly to the semi-finals. Stade Français could still be a champion team as they face English side, the Harlequins in the Amlin Challenge Cup Final altter this month. Saturday´s match included Argentine international centre, Gonzalo Tiesi starting in the centres and Argentine born Italian international backrower Sergio Parisse and Pumas fullback, Martín Rodriguez Gurruchaga both coming off the bench for Stade Français. Former Argentine international tighthead prop, Juan Pablo Orlandi started for Racing Metro and Pumas backrower, Alvaro Galindo came off the bench as did Argentine born Italian international secondrower Santiago Dellapé. All players are in contention for places at Rugby World Cup 2011.

USAP Perpignan hosted Castres in a match of no interested to the home side as the play-off´s were already out of reach. After losing the Heineken Cup semi-final the previous weekend, Perpignan opted to make a number of changes which Castres nused to its own advantage in winning the match 29-10, a rare away win vs a quality side. The victory, however, included a lot of luck with Castres scoring two intercept tries. The result means Perpignan will not feature in next seasons Heineken Cup and that Castres will host a Semi-final play-off vs Montpellier next weekend. Two retired South Americans featured in this match with former Uruguayan Teros captain, Rodrigo Capó Ortega starting in the secondrow for Castres and former Pumas secondrower, Rimas Alvarez coming off the bench in the secondhalf for USAP.

Résumé du match USAP vs Castres por USAP_Communication

Bayonne speedster, Yohan Huget showed just why French national coach, Marc Lievremont has been giving him so much game time for France as the French international winger scored two long range tries for Bayonne in the sides 30-17 away victory vs the relegated La Rochelle. The Atlantic side is already preparing for next season in the pro d2 by purchasing existing Top 14 players in an attempt to get back into the Top 14 as sson as possible. In the teams home loss to Bayonne uncapped Argentine frontrower, Andrés Bordoy, was a second half replacement.

Retour sur ASR-AB por AtlantiqueStadeRochelais

Final Standings

1 Toulouse 82 
2 Racing Metro 78
3 Castres 76
4 Clermont 72 
5 Biarritz 72
6 Montpellier 72
7 Bayonne 71 
8 Toulon 70
9 Perpignan 63
10 Agen 51
11 Stade Francais 49
12 Brive 46
13 La Rochelle 33 (relegated)
14 Bourgoin 5 (relegated)

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