Thursday, December 6, 2012

Benjamin Urdapilleta scores 20 points for Oyonnax

Photo: Candice Quirk
After thirteen rounds of the Pro d2 Oyonnax is the team to beat. It is in first place on 53 competition points, well ahead of the second best, has 40 points. Oyonnax is maintaining the evolution of French club rugby which continues to see clubs from outside of South-Western France have more success now than ever before. While less from the region are playing in the Top 14 less are also dominating in the second division. Since Rugby World Cup 2007 three of the four champions have not been from France´s South-West. The exception was in 2010 when Agen won the Pro d2. The same club is currently facing relegation back to the Pro d2. The 2012 champions were Grenoble and like Racing Métro and Toulon it is proving to be a strong team in France´s Top flight. The 2010 Champions, Lyon were relegated back after one season in the Top 14 but are currently second in the Pro d2 behind Oyannax.  

26 year old Argentine flyhalf Benjamin Urdapilleta made the move to Oyonnax this season. He joined the French second division side in an attempt of getting more game time after he was not a regular starter for the Harlequins during his two year stint with the current English Champions. Urdapilleta was a part of the Pumas squad during the three match home series against Italy and France in June. It was his eight international appearance. His first came in 2007 against Chile.He started the third match of the tour, in Córdoba while rival Ignacio Mieres started the first two. This season Mieres has not been able to play as much for the Exeter Chiefs and could well have competition for a place in the June 2013 squad from Urdapilleta. Neither player is likely to feature in The Rugby Championship but both are, indeed, real options for the yet to be confirmed home series against Georgia and England.

This past weekend Oyonnax hosted the 2007 Pro d2 Champions, Auch. Oyonnax´s impressive season continued with the club winning 55-3, scoring eight tries to zero. One of the try scorers was Urdapilleta who had a good match, scoring 20 points. Auch lasted one season in the Top 14 before being relegated. Since then it has not been amongst the best sides in the Pro d2 as others have emerged instead. It currently sits in 10th place, eleven points behind the 5th placed Tarbes. The winner of the Pro d2 regular season wins automatic promotion to the Top 14 while the teams that finish 2nd-5th dispute the Pro d2 Semi Finals and Final with the winner also winning promotion. The bottom two clubs in the regular season are relegated to France´s third division, the Fédérale 1. 

Oyonnax v Auch

Pro d2 Standings
1 Oyonnax 53
2 Lyon 40
3 Pau 39
4 Brive 38
5 Tarbes 38
6 Aurillac 37
7 La Rochelle 37
8 Carcassonne 35
9 Albi 32
10 Auch 27 
11 Narbonne 25 
12 Colomiers 23 
13 Dax 20
14 Béziers 16 
15 Aix-en-provence 16
16 Massy 11

* In line for Promotion
* In Line for Play-off´s
* Facing Relegation

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