Sunday, May 24, 2015

Top 14: Americas Exports - Final Round

The final round of the Top 14 was played on Saturday and with it the play-offs were confirmed as were the two relegated sides. Such was the competitiveness of the French league that last season's finalists and the 2013 championship winning Castres finished tied with the relegated Bayonne. Also dropping to the second division is Lyon while Pau is to be joined by either Agen Mont de Marsan in being promoted to the Top 14. The two sides contested the final today 16-15 with Canadian Taylor Paris scoring Agen's only try. Confirmation of the Top 14 play-offs means that there are to be players from Argentina, Canada and the USA involved. The three countries are important to global rugby and are part of the only region yet to be allocated hosting rights to a Rugby World Cup. 

Toulouse 23-22 Bordeaux
Toulouse secured a home barrage play-off by winning in extraordinary fashion against big-city rivals Bordeaux. The win featured former Pumas vice-captain Patricio Albacete in the second-row while tighthead prop Francisco Goméz Kodela started for Bordeaux and scored the opening try. Former French international fly half Lionel Beauxis cost Bordeaux a place in the play-offs and also direct qualification to the 2015-2016 European Rugby Champions Cup. Awarded a simple penalty from in front Beauxis made the mistake of the season by kicking the easy attempt wide. The result meant that Oyonnax, despite losing badly, qualified for the barrage play-offs. Bordeaux, in finishing seventh, will face the winner of the Gloucester v Connacht play-off with the winner claiming the final place in the 2015-2016 European Rugby Champions Cup.

Toulon 46-17 Oyonnax
Toulouse will host Oyonnax in the barrage play-offs next Saturday while Toulon's players will be resting ahead of the Semi Finals. Toulon earned direct qualification to the final four by completing a demolition job on Oyonnax who were missing regular players including Argentine Benjamín Urdapilleta. Invovled for Toulon was Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe who is chasing back-to-back French titles to add to his three-consecutive European championships. Fernández Lobbe is expected to start the Semi Final and also World Cup matches for his country.

Montpellier 17-29 Clermont
Montpellier's mid-season axing of coach Fabian Galthié failed to turn around the team's fortunes as the club finished outside of the play-offs zone and will not play in the 2015-2016 European Rugby Champions Cup. Clermont will and, like Toulon, will skip the barrage round to play in the Semi Finals. Canadian Jamie Cudmore has been rested since the European club final. He is expected to start the Semi Final for Clermont. 

Racing Métro 53-10 Castres
Racing Métro completed a successful come back to overturn recent form and sneak back into the barrage zone. With it Racing Métro also confirmed it will again play in Europe next season. The bonus point crushing of Castres featured both Juan Imhoff and Tomás Lavanini in the starting lineup. Imhoff scored his team's first and last tries in playing on the right wing. Both players are expected to start World Cup matches for Argentina while Rodrigo Capó Ortega will do so for Uruguay. He was involved for Castres this weekend.

Lyon 29-24 Grenoble
Having already been relegated Lyon brought to an end it's one season back in the Top 14 by hosting the relegated threatened Grenoble. The visitors needed not win to stay in the Top 14 but did need at least a losing a bonus point which they managed in playing a back-and-forth match in Lyon. Puma Francisco Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro was on the bench for Lyon. 

Brive 27-0 Paris
Requiring a win and a bonus point to be sure Brive produced their performance of the season to secure their place in next season's Top 14. Stade Français was never in the match as a four tries to zero showing sees Brive finishing in 10th, equal with Grenoble on 53 points and just one ahead of Castres and the relegated Bayonne. Starting in the back-row for the Parisians was USA Eagle Scott LaValla. He is set to play in a second Rugby World Cup this year.

Bayonne 45-12 La Rochelle
An amazing home victory for Bayonne saw the players finishing the match in tears as with both Brive and Grenoble collecting the required points Bayonne was confirmed as second from botton and thus relegated. Starting were Pumas Santiago Fernández and Martín Bustos Moyano of whom both remain on contract at the club. Benjamín Macome is expected to leave to return to play in Argentina for the Super Rugby franchise. Bustos Moyano landed three conversions and Fernández one for the relegated club. Leandro Cedaro, who is Argentine but capped by Italy, played second-row for the visitors.

#
Team
Pts
1
Toulon
76
2
Clermont
75
3
Toulouse
70
4
Paris
70
5
Racing Métro
65
6
Oyonnax
62
7
Bordeaux
61
8
Montpellier
55
9
La Rochelle
54
10
Brive
53
11
Grenoble
53
12
Castres
52
13
Bayonne
52
14
Lyon
41

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