Saturday, March 28, 2015

Top 14: Americas Exports - Round 21

Photo: Rugby Rama
The twenty-first round of the Top 14 saw upsets taking place at both ends of the table. The dual leaders Toulon and Clermont both lost while the relegation threatened Castres and La Rochelle both won away matches. With five rounds left to play the results make the competition wide open as teams currently in the play-offs zone could yet be relegated. The round further underlined the importance of the Americas to the sport of rugby as players put in noteworthy performances for their French club sides. The Americas is to have four teams competing in the 20 team Rugby World Cup competition later this year. The region is unique in being the only one yet to be allocated hosting rights to a Rugby World Cup. Argentine authorities want to host the World Cup in 2023. 


Bayonne 6-12 Racing Métro
The round got underway in south-west France on Friday evening with Bayonne looking to edge further away from the relegation zone. Instead, however, Racing Métro won on the road to move closer towards booking a place in the play-offs. Involved for the visitors was Puma Juan Imhoff while former Argentine internationals Martín Bustos Moyano and Santiago Fernández both started for Bayonne. Bustos Moyano kicked two penalties for the home side in what was a tryless match. 

Paris 40-26 Clermont
The Gonzalo Quesada coached Stade Français Paris moved to within two points of the top of the table with a thundering home victory against Clermont Auvergne in the opening fixture on Saturday. Clermont was resting a host of players due to it having a European Rugby Champions Cup Quarter Final next weekend. USA back-rower Scott LaValla was a replacement for the Parisians.

Bordeaux 21-22 La Rochelle
A crucial away victory by La Rochelle continues with the unpredictability of the Top 14. La Rochelle's win on the road maintains the club at a distance of six competition points outside of the relegation zone. For Bordeaux the result was a third consecutive defeat which sees the club continuing to drop down the standings. Leandro Cedaro from Argentina started for La Rochelle. He is capped by Italy. Involved for Bordeaux was former Puma Francisco Goméz Kodela. 

Montpellier 45-17 Lyon
Having fallen off the pace Montpellier appears to now be destined for a return to the play-offs zone. A big home win against the bottom placed Lyon places the Mediterranean city club side just one point adrift of the barrage zone. Lyon remains six points behind where it needs to be to avoid relegation. Fortunately for the club both Brive and Bayonne lost their matches this weekend. 

Oyonnax 24-3 Brive
The brilliant recruiting skills of Oyonnax continues to bring in results. The small-town eastern French side is currently placed in the barrage zone meaning it may make history by playing in the play-offs for the first time ever. Pivotal to the successes of Oyonnax has been former Puma Benjamín Urdapilleta who shone again in round 21 by kicking fifteen points. 

Toulon 24-34 Toulouse
A crowd of 68,000 at the Stade Velodrome in Marseilles was in attendance for an upset result as Toulouse won what was a relocated home Toulon fixture. Captaining Toulouse to victory was former Puma second-rower Patricio Albacete. Starting for Toulon was Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe while Juan Martín Hernández entered for Frédéric Michalak in the 523rd minute. Toulon must now recover ahead of the European Rugby Champions Cup Quarter Finals next weekend. 

Grenoble 12-16 Castres
A first away victory of the season significantly eases the pressure on Castres. The 2013 French champions are now two competition points behind in the relegation zone rather than six. The team's round 22 fixture at home against Bordeaux in two weeks time is now set to be must-win for both teams. Involved for Castres v Grenoble was Uruguayan veteran Rodrigo Capó Ortega. Puma Ramiro Herrera was a replacement prop.  

#
Team
Pts
1
Toulon
61
2
Clermont
61
3
Paris
59
4
Racing Métro
55
5
Toulouse
53
6
Oyonnax
49
7
Montpellier
48
8
Grenoble
48
9
Bordeaux
46
10
La Rochelle
44
11
Bayonne
41
12
Brive
40
13
Castres
38
14
Lyon
34

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