Sunday, January 4, 2015

Top 14: Americas Players Review - Round 15


Photo Rugby Champagne
After fifteen rounds of the French national championship, the Top 14 there is little in the way of differentiating the majority of teams involved. The race for both the play-offs and to avoid relegation is set to go to the limit as uncertainty reigns supreme in the competition. For the second consecutive week all home teams won their matches. The secret to making the play-offs and avoiding relegation appears to lie in winning all home matches and collecting bonus points and wins, when possible, on the road. The competition is packed with players from the Americas and in round 15 all four of Argentina, Canada, Uruguay and the USA were represented. The same four will all play in the World Cup this year. Argentina is looking to become the first country from the Americas to be allocated hosting rights to a Rugby World Cup. Former captain Agustín Pichot has confirmed the country's interest.

Lyon 12-9 Paris
The round got underway on Friday evening with Lyon hosting competition leaders Stade Français and getting four highly valuable competition points. The Parisians managed a losing bonus point but could very easily have won as Lyon was far from convincing. Indeed Lyon had a one-man advantage for much of the contest following the loss of Springbok Morné Steyn to a first half red card. Starting for Lyon were Pumas Juan Manuel Leguizamón and Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro. USA Eagle Scott LaValla was a replacement for the Parisians while Italian captain Sergio Parisse who is Argentine by birth started. Jaguar Santiago Gárcia Botta arrived home in Argentina after the prop had completed his short-term medical joker term with the Parisians.

Racing Métro 12-9 Bordeaux
A tryless opened the Saturday fixtures with Racing Métro winning 12-9 in Colombes thanks to Maxime Machenaud landing a late penalty for the home side. The result sees Racing Métro move ahead of both Bordeaux-Begles and Grenoble to now occupy fourth position. Playing left wing for Racing Métro was Puma Juan Imhoff while former Puma Francisco Goméz Kodela was a 51st minute replacement for the visitors.

Brive 25-9 Bayonne
An extremely important result on Saturday afternoon saw Brive climbing the standings to sit with 31 competition points while Bayonne have 28 and are therefore back in the relegation zone. All of Brive's points were scored by Gaitan Germain. Involved for Bayonne were Pumas Santiago Fernández and Benjamín Macome, both of whom started. On the bench was Martín Bustos Moyano.

Grenoble 33-19 Oyonnax
A four tries to one home victory sees Grenoble moving back up the standings to fifth position. Oyonnax have dropped to 11th and are only one point ahead of both Castres and Bayonne. Starting for Oyonnax was former Puma Benjamín Urdapilleta who scored fourteen points. He was partnered in the halves by Agustín Figuerola who is another former Puma who is unwanted for international duty despite being a regular in an elite professional competition.

Castres 30-15 La Rochelle
The battle of the basement was played at the same time as Brive v Bayonne and Grenoble v Oyonnax. As such none of the relegation threatened sides knew exactly what they needed to do in order to either keep out or get out of the relegation zone. Castres played some of its best rugby all season to score four tries to two to draw level with Bayonne on 28 competition points. Starting was Uruguayan veteran of Rugby World Cup 2003 Rodrigo Capó Ortega. On the bench for La Rochelle was Leandro Cedaro who turned down playing for Los Jaguares to instead play for Italy.

Montpellier 16-12 Toulon
The arrival of South African World Cup winning coach Jake White at Montpellier paid-off immediately as the club conquered reigning European and French champions Toulon on Saturday. The win sees Montpellier holding onto a four point advantage over Brive and a single point behind Bordeaux-Begles. Making his debut for Toulon was Juan Martín Hernández who was a second half replacement for Nicolás Sánchez who was the starting fly half. Montpellier's trip to Oyonnax next weekend will offer the club an opportunity at returning to the top six. 

Clermont 24-6 Toulouse
The final match of the round was a classic from seasons gone by but in 2015 the form of Toulouse is not comparable to the standards produced previously. Clermont Auvergne eased to victory in the match and did so with Canadian Jamie Cudmore starting in the second-row. Former Puma Patricio Albacete was on the bench for the fixture. He entered the match in the 54th minute. The win sees Clermont go top of the table while Toulouse sit in eighth.

#
Club
Pts
1
Clermont
45
2
Paris
45
3
Toulon
43
4
Racing Métro
41
5
Grenoble
38
6
Bordeaux
36
7
Montpellier
35
8
Toulouse
33
9
Brive
31
10
Lyon
30
11
Oyonnax
29
12
Castres
28
13
Bayonne
28
14
La Rochelle
25


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