Monday, September 5, 2011

Argentina players in France - Bordeaux-Begles

The largest city in the French region of Aquitaine, Bordeaux, is back in the French Top 14 after winning promotion from the Pro d2 thanks to winning the competitions Grand Final in 2010-2011. Aquitaine comprises five French departementes in total and is commonly referred to as the hot-bed of French rugby. The departementes of Dordogne, Lot et Garonne, Pyrenees-Atlantiques, Landes and Girondes are all rugby strongholds with small-city teams such as Bayonne and Biarritz in the Top 14 and a host of others in the Pro d2. Bordeaux is the largest city of Aquitaine and more importantly is the sixth largest city in France. With Bordeaux having a large population, France's Rugby Premiership continues to have an increasingly number of large city teams. Bordeaux joins the likes of Lyon, Montpellier, Paris Toulon, Toulouse as being big city teams which appears to be coming the norm with other cities making substantial progress in rugby such as Grenoble and Marseilles.

Teams are increasingly utilizing large stadiums and with Bordeaux and Lyon entering the Top 14 this trend will continue. Bordeaux-Begles has confirmed that it will use the Stade Chaban-Delmas for Top 14 matches against Bayonne, Clermont, Racing Metro 92, Toulon and Toulouse as well as an Amlin Challenge Cup clash against the London Wasps. Tghe clubps first home match took palce at the venue vs Bayonne in front of a big crowd. The club has the lowest budget of all sides in the 2011-2012 Top 14 with €8 million but has nevertheless recuited some talented players and should be able to recruit a lot more, should it survive the season to remain in the Top 14 for 2012-2013. The use of the Stade Chaban-Delmas gives Bordeaux a large venue which the likes of Agen, Brive and Castres do not have and thus the team club could very well benefit tremendously from the added profits from ticket sales. The venue hosted four matches at Rugby World Cup 2007 including two of the most memorable matches of the tournament in Canada vs Japan and Ireland vs Georgia. All four matches were well attended, suggesting that the club should go from strength-to-strength.

Bordeaux-Begles has two Argentine international players with winger Rafael Carballo having joined the club in January 2010 after previously playing for Toulon and Castres in France and Alumni in Buenos Aires. He is not in New Zealand with Los Pumas as he was left out of the squad for Rugby World Cup 2011 despite scoring some great tries in the years between 2007 and 2011 such as his try vs Italy in Torino in 2008 and vs France in Buenos Aires in 2010. He will be joined by flyhalf Nicolás Sánchez who is to play professional rugby for the first time after having previously played for Tucumán Lawn Tennis in the Northern Argentine city of Tucuman and for Los Pampas XV in South Africa's Vodacom Cup. The young Pumas flyhalf is currently in New Zealand preparing for the all important clash vs England in Dunedin. Sánchez will be a key player fir the club if it is to succeed in 2011-2012.

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