Saturday, August 16, 2014

Top 14: Americas Players Review - Round 1

Photo Bayonne
The Top 14 got underway this weekend with a full round of seven league matches. Involved for French sides were players from the Americas, the only IRB defined region yet to be allocated a Rugby World Cup. With Argentina, Canada, Uruguay and the USA all having players involved in the league the case for the region's leading rugby country, Argentina, to host Rugby World Cup 2023 is one to be seriously considered.  Three of the four have qualified for Rugby World Cup 2015 and the fourth, Uruguay, is one of two finalists for the final vacancy. 

Bayonne 15-29 Toulon
Played on Friday evening the opening match of the season saw a full strength Bayonne host last season's champions who were missing players to international duty in the Rugby Championship. The visitors were too strong as they overturned a 12-12 half time scoreline to win comfortably. All of Bayonne's points were scored by Martín Bustos Moyano who was one of two former Pumas starting. He did so on the wing while Santi Fernández played fly half

Brive 37-15 La Rochelle
Both sides have been in the Top 14 and Pro d2 in recent seasons. As such they are, by nature, candidates for relegation at the end of this season. They are to therefore need to fight tooth and nail in every match to not only win but collect bonus points whenever possible. Brive started in style seeing La Rochelle outclassed. 

Clermont 30-26 Grenoble
Powerhouse Clermont Auvergne was given a scare at home against Grenoble on Saturday afternoon. The ome side managed to win with Jamie Cudmore involved in the second-row. The Canadian veteran continues to be a starter in the club in what is his tenth season. 

Bordeaux 18-9 Lyon
A match showcasing the changing nature of French professional rugby saw two of France's largest cities playing in a Top 14 match rather than a Pro d2 match as was the norm until recently. With big city teams increasingly winning promotion to the elite division the profile continues to evolve. Making his debut for Bordeaux-Begles was former Argentine international tighthead prop Francisco Goméz Kodela who was a second half replacement. 

Castres 22-25 Paris
2012 French champions Castres Olympique lost at home against the underachieving Stade Français Paris. The Parisians have failed to live up to their bill in recent seasons but the away win to open the campaign could be a sign of better fortunes in the 2014-2015 season. The club is coached by former Puma Gonzalo Quesada who had USA back-rower Scott LaValla on the bench. Starting for Castres was Uruguay's Rodrigo Capó Ortega.  

Toulouse 20-19 Oyonnax
Looking to overturn a poor 2013-2014 season Toulouse signed a number of notable players for the new seaso including England's Toby Flood. In joining the southern French side Flood cannot play for England and therefore will miss the World Cup. He scored an arly try but Oyonax fought back to hold a half time lead with former Puma Benjamín Urdapilleta in fine form with the boot. He scored fourteen points and was joined by Agustín Figuerola in the halves. Patricio Albacete played second-row for Toulouse. 

Montpellier 16-19 Racing Métro
The final match of the opening round underlined the change from the past season as the pattern of home sides winning match after match was not so this weekend. The narrow win saw Racimg Métro downing one of the leading sides from last season. Missing for the winners was Juan Imhoff who is out injured but expected to play for Argentina in the round three away fixture against New Zealand in Napier.

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