Sunday, October 12, 2014

Top 14: Americas Players Review - Round 9

Photo: Rugby Scapulaire
The ninth round of the French Top 14 came to a conclusion earlier this evening with Toulouse hosting Toulon in a rare Sunday fixture. With the November internationals fast approaching there is increased emphasis placed on international players from a host of countries. Among the countries with players involved in round nine were Argentina, Canada and the USA - three countries who won matches at Rugby World Cup 2011 and are all to be involved in next years Rugby World Cup. The Americas is to have one team in each of the four pools and will make up 20% of all participants. It is also the only IRB region yet to be allocated hosting rights to a Rugby World Cup. This ought to chance in 2023 with Argentina having a very strong argument to host the event. 

Grenoble 26-25 Brive
The Stade des Alpes was the setting for a great game of rugby and one which Brive players and supporters will not be happy about. In losing the fixture by a single point Brive have dropped into the relegation zone. As it currently stands Brive is a team having great difficulty in winning on the road. As Oyonnax illustrated last season not only are home wins vital but home wins but also be taken on the road when possible.  

Bordeaux 59-7 Castres
The second match of the round was vastly different to the first. A big stadium was again utilized but, otherwise, it was a match with just one team playing rugby. Bordeaux-Begles' home win was arguably its best since returning to the Top 14 several seasons ago. The home side scored nine tries to one and did so against the team that won the Top 14 two in 2013. Former Puma Francisco Goméz Kodela started for Bordeaux-Begles at tighthead prop. Rodrigo Capó Ortega was missing for Castres. He was involved in Uruguay's win over Russia on Saturday.

Paris 23-19 Racing Métro
A great local derby in the French capital saw the Gonzalo Quesada coached Stade Français sneak in a tight victory. Racing Métro had the better of play, scoring three tries to one but the home side ultimately got the win due to the unreliable boot of former Springbok Johan Goosen for Racing Métro. USA Eagles forward Scott LaValla played on the side of the scrum for Stade Français.  

Montpellier 25-9 Oyonnax
A home win for Montpellier but one which the team would trade for the loss of a star fly half. The form fly half in France, François Trinh-Duc suffered a broken leg with former Argentine international Benjamín Urdapilleta putting in a hard-hitting tackle. Trinh-Duc is now going to uundergo a five month recovery program leaving Montpellier without a notable pivot. The club will need to acquire a medical joker while France will look elsewhere with, perhaps, Clermont's Camille Lopez set to start the November internationals. Urdapilleta kicked three goals for Oyonnax in the match.

Lyon 24-19 Bayonne
Lyon and Bayonne are now tied on 17 competition points. With Lyon continuing to win at home the club is, presently, on track to remain in the Top 14. Bayonne is a club that needs to win such fixtures as this away from home to avoid falling into the abyss in a similar manner to neighboring Biarritz.  Starting for Bayonne were former Pumas Santiago Fernández and Martín Bustos Moyano. Neither has been selected by Daniel Hourcade this season despite both holding down starting positions in France. Bustos Moyano kicked four goals.

Clermont Auvergne 30-10 La Rochelle
A three tries to one home victory saw Clermont going top of the table. A number of French internationals impressed but scrumhalf Morgan Parra, like Trinh-Duc, appears now to be out of rugby for an extended period. Many other international players were involvled including Canada's Jamie Cudmore who entered the match from the bench in the 54th minute. Also involved was Argentine second-rower Leandro Cedaro who started for La Rochelle. Cedaro, despite being from Argentina, is capped by Italy.

Toulouse 21-10 Toulon
Starting for Toulouse was veteran Argentine second-rower Patricio Albacete who is yet to play for his country this year. Meanwhile Juan Fernández Lobbe played in the Toulon back-row while Welsh and British and Irish Lions fullback Leigh Halfpenny made his long awaited debut for the losing side. Also involved was the Argentine-Italian Martín Castrogiovanni who played at tighthead prop for Toulon. The result sees Toulouse out of the relegation zone and moving up to eighth position ahead of Lyon, Bayonne, La Rochelle, Castres and Brive.

1
Clermont Auvergne
31
2
Toulon
28
3
Bordeaux Begles
27
4
Montpellier
26
5
Paris
26
6
Grenoble
24
7
Racing Métro
24
8
Toulouse
18
9
Lyon
17
10
Bayonne
17
11
La Rochelle
15
12
Castres
15
13
Brive
14
14
Oyonnax
12

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