French rugby 2020/2021

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Robespierre
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Re: French rugby 2020/2021

Post by Robespierre » Thu Mar 04, 2021 6:13 pm

Good news! Romain Ntamack is fit and included in the Toulouse squad for the visit of Brive on Saturday.
I wonder if he'll be included in the French squad for Twickers next Saturday - probably too early, but maybe for Wales and the rearranged Scotland game in Paris.
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Re: French rugby 2020/2021

Post by Robespierre » Thu Mar 04, 2021 6:13 pm

Good news! Romain Ntamack is fit and included in the Toulouse squad for the visit of Brive on Saturday.
I wonder if he'll be included in the French squad for Twickers next Saturday - probably too early, but maybe for Wales and the rearranged Scotland game in Paris.
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Re: French rugby 2020/2021

Post by Robespierre » Sun Mar 07, 2021 9:17 am

This weekend's Top14 results:

Montpellier 22 Clermont 16
Toulouse 42 Brive 17
Bayonne 20 Lyon 29
Bordeaux 29 Pau 23
Castres 22 La Rochelle 15
S Français 40 Agen 21
Toulon 25 Racing 21

1 Toulouse played 19/points 66
2 Racing 19/59
3 La Rochelle 19/59
4 Clermont 16/55
5 Bordeaux 19/53
6 Toulon 19/52
7 Lyon 19/47
8 S Français 19/45
9 Castres 19/43
10 Brive 19/39
11 Montpellier 19/36
12 Pau 19/31
13 Bayonne 18/30
14 Agen 18/2

There's one catch-up match next Saturday, Bayonne (13th) v Agen(14th), and each club will have played 19 matches. Bayonne should beat winless Agen, and move out of the relegation zone at the expense of Pau. But stranger things have been known to happen!

There'll then be a break in the Top14 until the last weekend of March.
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Re: French rugby 2020/2021

Post by Robespierre » Sun Mar 07, 2021 6:44 pm

The season in ProD2 is now 22 games old and 8 to play, the leaders are:

1 Vannes 81 Points
2 Perpignan 79
3 Biarritz 72
4 Oyonnax 57
5 Colomiers 57
6 Grenoble 52
7 Nevers 52

The top three have opened up quite a gap at the top and will be the favourites to scrap for promotion.
Sides finishing 1st and 2nd will automatically qualify for the final play-offs. 3rd will play 6th and 4th against 5th and the winners play those finishing 1st and 2nd. The winner gains automatic promotion and the runner-up plays a match against the 13th side in the Top14 for a place in next season's top flight.
Vannes, from Brittany (a department not known for top class rugby), are the surprise package and have only lost three games this season. They're closely followed by the formerly great clubs of Perpignan and Biarritz, who I believe have the pedigree to gain promotion.
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Re: French rugby 2020/2021

Post by Robespierre » Sun Mar 14, 2021 10:58 am

This weekend's onlky Top14 match was the delayed 15th round game between Bayonne and Agen.
No real surprise in the result, a thumping 48-20 bonus point win for Bayonne which moves them out of the relegation zone at the expense of Pau, who must be getting worried. Their next matches are away to Castres and a vital home fixture against Bayonne.

The lower end of the table looks like this:

11 Montpellier played 19/ 36 points
12 Bayonne 19/35
13 Pau 19/31
14 Agen 19/2 (a catastrophic season for Agen with 19 matches played and 19 defeats)

There are no matches next weekend and the season resumes on the weekend of March 27th:

S Français v Clermont
Bayonne v Racing
Bordeaux v La Rochelle
Brive v Agen
Castres v Pau
Toulouse v Montpellier
Lyon v Toulon
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Re: French rugby 2020/2021

Post by Robespierre » Mon Mar 29, 2021 5:10 pm

Here are round 20's results of the matches played on Saturday March 27th:

S Français 27 Clermont 34 (3 tries for each side but SF conceded too many penalties)
Bayonne 23 Racing 13 (Racing will be disappointed not even getting a losing bp)
Bordeaux 11 La Rochelle 26 (an excellent away win for La Rochelle)
Brive 57 Agen 3
Castres 38 Pau 33
Toulouse 19 Montpellier 29 (another home defeat for Toulouse missing their international players)
Lyon 54 Toulon 16 (an embarassing pasting for Toulon)

1 Toulouse 20/66
2 L Rochelle 20/63
3 Racing 20/59
4 Clermont 20/59
5 Bordeaux 20/53
6 Lyon 20/52
7 Toulon 20/52
8 Castres 20/47
9 S Français 20/45
10 Brive 20/44
11 Montpellier 20/40
12 Bayonne 20/39
13 Pau 20/32 (Next match on April 16th against Bayonne - a must win!)
14 Agen 20/2
11
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Re: French rugby 2020/2021

Post by Robespierre » Wed Apr 14, 2021 8:10 am

This weekend will see round 21 in the Top14 - with only 5 more matches until the end of season playoffs.

Friday 17th
Pau v Bayonne (Pau in 13th are 7 points adrift of Bayonne in 14th, so urgently need a win)

Saturday 18th
Castres v Toulouse
Clermont v Brive
Agen v Bordeaux
La Rochelle v Lyon
Montpellier v Toulon
Racing v S Français
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Re: French rugby 2020/2021

Post by Robespierre » Sun Apr 18, 2021 9:22 am

This weekend's Top14 results:

Pau 43 Bayonne 33
(a crucial win for Pau that leaves them 3 points behind Bayonne)
Castres 26 Toulouse 24
(Despite sending what was essentially a team of reserves, Toulouse will be disappointed not to come away with the win. Castres were leading 26-10 after 62 mins and in the last quarter Toulouse scored two converted tries and Castres had two yellow cards)
La Rochelle 38 Lyon 23

Clermont v Brive postponed
Agen v Bordeaux ..
Montpellier v Toulon ..
Racing v S Français ..

Table:
1 Toulouse played 21 points 67
2 La Rochelle 21/67
3 Racing 20/59
4 Clermont 20/59
5 Bordeaux 20/53
6 Lyon 21/52
7 Toulon 20/52
8 Castres 21/51
9 SF 20/45
10 Brive 20/44
11 Montpellier 20/40
12 Bayonne 21/39
13 Pau 21/36
14 Agen 20/2

Next weekend's fixtures:
Friday 23rd
Bordeaux v Montpellier
Saturday 24th
Lyon v Clermont
Bayonne v Castres
Brive v La Rochelle
SF v Pau
Toulon v Agen
Toulouse v Racing

Toulouse, Bordeaux and La Rochelle will undoubtedly have one eye on the Champions' Cup semis the following weekend which may mean fielding weaker teams. It's a typical end of season dilemma - go for important Top14 points to secure a home play off or rest players for a European semi?
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Re: French rugby 2020/2021

Post by Robespierre » Fri Apr 23, 2021 1:05 pm

Due to covid, there'll only be three Top14 matches this weekend, Lyon v Clermont, SF v Pau and Toulouse v Racing, which will surely lead to an end of season fixture congestion before the final round of matches. The playoffs are due to begin on the weekend of June 6th.

Friday 23rd
Bordeaux v Montpellier - postponed
Saturday 24th
Lyon v Clermont
Bayonne v Castres - postponed
Brive v La Rochelle - postponed
SF v Pau
Toulon v Agen - postponed until the 1st May
Toulouse v Racing
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Re: French rugby 2020/2021

Post by Robespierre » Sun Apr 25, 2021 3:46 pm

The weekend's results:

Lyon 41 Clermont 30
S Français 46 Pau 32
Toulouse 34 Racing 16

Table:

1 Toulouse played 22/ points 72
2 La Rochelle 21/67
3 Racing 21/59
4 Clermont 21/59
5 Lyon 22/56
6 Bordeaux 20/53
7 Toulon 20/52
8 Castres 21/51
9 SF 21/49
10 Brive 20/44
11 Montpellier 20/40
12 Bayonne 21/39
13 Pau 22/36
14 Agen 20/2

Pau will be disappointed with their defeat to SF. There are 4 games left for them to avoid finishing 13th and a play off at the ProD2 runners-up; Agen (away), Racing (home), La Rochelle (away) and Montpellier (home).
Bayonne have 5 matches left, 3 of which are at home, Castres (h), Bordeaux (h), Toulouse (a), Montpellier(a) and SF (h), so they must be favourites to avoid finishing 13th.
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Re: French rugby 2020/2021

Post by Robespierre » Fri Apr 30, 2021 8:39 am

There are some catch-up matches this weekend.
Yesterday evening Castres won narrowly at Bayonne 26-23, moving into the top 6 and end of season playoffs. Bayonne gained what could be a precious losing bonus point and are now 4 points clear of Pau with both clubs having played 22 games.

There are three games due to be played tomorrow (Saturday 1st May):
Racing v S Français
Clermont v Brive (the match is in doubt as there's been a positive case of covid in the Clermont squad)
Toulon v Agen
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Re: French rugby 2020/2021

Post by Robespierre » Mon May 03, 2021 5:06 pm

The weekend's Top14 results:

Bayonne 23 Castres 26
Racing 29 S Français 35
Toulon 34 Agen 17
Clermont 37 Brive 27

1 Toulouse played 22 / points 72
2 La Rochelle 21/67
3 Clermont 22/63
4 Racing 22/59
5 Toulon 21/57
6 Lyon 22/56
7 Castres 22/55
8 Bordeaux 20/53
9 SF 22/53
10 Brive 21/44
11 Bayonne 22/40
12 Montpellier 20/40
13 Pau 22/36
14 Agen 21/2

Next weekend's fixtures:
Friday 8th
Castres v Lyon
Saturday 9th
Racing v Clermont
Agen v Pau
Bayonne v Bordeaux
Brive v SF
Montpellier v La Rochelle
Toulon v Toulouse
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Re: French rugby 2020/2021

Post by ourla » Tue May 04, 2021 12:26 am

Read an interesting comment on French rugby (teams):
Yes, La Rochelle is clearly the Top 14 team with the lowest number of actual local players - although they are home to one Elissalde family, so it's not like no rugbyman was ever born here. But that is very easy to explain.

Most French rugby players come from the Southwest, roughly in a square between Biarritz, Montpellier, Grenoble and Bordeaux. But since the league is growing, you need enough population to sustain the growth of the club. And the Southwest is not very populated, the "Diagonale du Vide" goes right through it.

So when you look at current Top 14 teams, how to explain their presence?
- First, you have the major cities in that Southwestern area: Lyon (3rd), Toulouse (4th largest), Bordeaux (9th), Montpellier (7th). Lyon is not historically huge on rugby, but Grenoble and Bourgoin-Jallieu are, and they are close (also Oyonnax a bit further)
- Two teams profit from the Paris area (Racing and Stade Français)
- You have the big outlier Toulon (13th), which has basically no other major sport (they had a decent basketball team but I think it folded)
- Then, you have "company clubs" that are financed by a powerful local investor: Clermont (by Michelin) and Castres (by Pierre Fabre Laboratories). They are in areas with many local rugby players however, so that helps.

So that leaves 5 clubs to explain. Of those 5, 4 are "historical strongholds" in the heart of France's rugby-heavy area, that have won titles already: 3 titles for Pau, 8 for Agen - ranked 4th in history behind Toulouse, SF & Béziers - 3 for Bayonne, and 1 ERC for Brive. If you know a bit about the history of French rugby, you will recognize many prominent names that came from their academies (Robert Paparemborde, Imanol Harinordoquy or Damien Traille from Pau, Pierre Villepreux from Brive, Charles Ollivon from Bayonne, Philippe Sella from Agen)...

And then you have La Rochelle, which is an outlier: not from a historical rugby area, not that big, not a rich history.

La Rochelle rose because of a combination of factors: great management first - the president Vincent Merling, a local entrepreneur, has been there for 30 years now - but also lack of local rivalry that tended to impede growth and explains why many teams ended up killing their neighbours (Narbonne/Béziers/Carcassonne/Perpignan, for example...). It's also still a "Southern city", so not too far from everything rugby in the country.

And they got excellent results because instead of looking for stars, they built with shrewd recruits, many being players other teams did not want anymore. Of course, sometimes they add a Vito, a Kerr-Barlowe or a Skelton, but the entire world was not fighting to sign Dillion Leyds or Raymond Rhule.

They also rely on great managers - Collazo before, and Gibbes/O'Gara now. They look a lot like a French equivalent to Exeter, with of course fewer results - but more competition - so far.

The "next La Rochelle" might be Vannes, in Brittany, which is in excellent position to reach the Top 14 next year (guaranteed top 2 spot). Slowly, "new teams" like this replace historical strongholds - like Agen, which has been slowly declining - because the rugby clubs of eld came from cities too small to compete in the professional era without a huge backer.
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Re: French rugby 2020/2021

Post by Robespierre » Tue May 04, 2021 8:52 am

ourla wrote:
Tue May 04, 2021 12:26 am
Read an interesting comment on French rugby (teams):
Yes, La Rochelle is clearly the Top 14 team with the lowest number of actual local players - although they are home to one Elissalde family, so it's not like no rugbyman was ever born here. But that is very easy to explain.

Most French rugby players come from the Southwest, roughly in a square between Biarritz, Montpellier, Grenoble and Bordeaux. But since the league is growing, you need enough population to sustain the growth of the club. And the Southwest is not very populated, the "Diagonale du Vide" goes right through it.

So when you look at current Top 14 teams, how to explain their presence?
- First, you have the major cities in that Southwestern area: Lyon (3rd), Toulouse (4th largest), Bordeaux (9th), Montpellier (7th). Lyon is not historically huge on rugby, but Grenoble and Bourgoin-Jallieu are, and they are close (also Oyonnax a bit further)
- Two teams profit from the Paris area (Racing and Stade Français)
- You have the big outlier Toulon (13th), which has basically no other major sport (they had a decent basketball team but I think it folded)
- Then, you have "company clubs" that are financed by a powerful local investor: Clermont (by Michelin) and Castres (by Pierre Fabre Laboratories). They are in areas with many local rugby players however, so that helps.

So that leaves 5 clubs to explain. Of those 5, 4 are "historical strongholds" in the heart of France's rugby-heavy area, that have won titles already: 3 titles for Pau, 8 for Agen - ranked 4th in history behind Toulouse, SF & Béziers - 3 for Bayonne, and 1 ERC for Brive. If you know a bit about the history of French rugby, you will recognize many prominent names that came from their academies (Robert Paparemborde, Imanol Harinordoquy or Damien Traille from Pau, Pierre Villepreux from Brive, Charles Ollivon from Bayonne, Philippe Sella from Agen)...

And then you have La Rochelle, which is an outlier: not from a historical rugby area, not that big, not a rich history.

La Rochelle rose because of a combination of factors: great management first - the president Vincent Merling, a local entrepreneur, has been there for 30 years now - but also lack of local rivalry that tended to impede growth and explains why many teams ended up killing their neighbours (Narbonne/Béziers/Carcassonne/Perpignan, for example...). It's also still a "Southern city", so not too far from everything rugby in the country.

And they got excellent results because instead of looking for stars, they built with shrewd recruits, many being players other teams did not want anymore. Of course, sometimes they add a Vito, a Kerr-Barlowe or a Skelton, but the entire world was not fighting to sign Dillion Leyds or Raymond Rhule.

They also rely on great managers - Collazo before, and Gibbes/O'Gara now. They look a lot like a French equivalent to Exeter, with of course fewer results - but more competition - so far.

The "next La Rochelle" might be Vannes, in Brittany, which is in excellent position to reach the Top 14 next year (guaranteed top 2 spot). Slowly, "new teams" like this replace historical strongholds - like Agen, which has been slowly declining - because the rugby clubs of eld came from cities too small to compete in the professional era without a huge backer.
Thanks, Ourla! The rugby map of France is indeed slowly changing.

A lot of clubs with a great history and tradition no longer find themselves in the Top14. Béziers, Mont de Marsan, Biarritz and Perpignan are in ProD2, although the last two are in contention for promotion at the end of the season.
Dax, Tarbes and Bourgoin are in the Nationale division (3rd tier). Even further down in Fédérale 2 (5th tier) is a club who have won 8 French titles ( the last in 1968), Lourdes.

This season, one of Pau, Bayonne and Montpellier could be relegated with Agen. The side that finishes 13th in the Top14 will have to travel to the runner-up in ProD2 to play a one-off match to decide which club will be in the Top14 next season. It's possible that these two clubs could be the all-time bitter Basque rivals Bayonne and Biarritz. There was talk of a merger a couple of years ago, but there was so much opposition from the die-hard supporters of each club that any chance of an accord fell at the first hurdle. It would have made sense to create one Basque club in the top flight, but it'll probably never happen and one, or both, may find themselves in the same boat as other neighbourly rivals like Dax and Mont de Marsan.
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Re: French rugby 2020/2021

Post by Robespierre » Sat May 08, 2021 9:41 am

Toulouse have picked a much changed side for this afternoon's trip to Toulon. No 8 Selevasio Tolofua will be up against his elder brother, the Toulon hooker and former Saracen, Christopher, and two young Argentinian test centres make their débuts, Juan Cruz Mallia and Santiago Chocobares.

Le XV toulousain : 15. Marty ; 14. Bonneval, 13. Mallia, 12. Chocobares, 11. Delibes ; 10. Ramos, 9. Balès ; 7. Madaule, 8. Tolofua, 6. Elstadt ; 5. Meafou, 4. Flament ; 3. Tafili, 2. Mauvaka, 1. Neti.

Les remplaçants : 16. G. Marchand, 17. Castets, 18. Tekori, 19. Youyoutte, 20. J. Brennan, 21. B. Germain, 22. Renda, 23. Ainu'u.

In the other fixtures, Springbok fly half Elton Jantjies makes his début for Pau in a must win game at Agen (who've lost every Top14 match this season). In Montpellier's starting XV, there are ex Premiership players Cobus Reinach and Alex Lozowski at half back and former Harlequin Gabriel Ibitoye makes his début on the wing after having left Agen under a bit of a cloud.
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