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Editors Choice


Editor's Blog: France coach Marc Lièvremont gets tough as he cracks the selection whip

By Colin Spiro, 28 October 2010

Stade Toulousain and France full-back Clement Poitrenaud
Snubbed: Clément Poitrenaud
was one of several casualties
Photo: Eoin Mundow/Cleva Media

The latest France squad may have been something of a surprise but the message put out by head coach Marc Lièvremont was loud and clear - no-one is undroppable!

France may have been the toast of European rugby as they swept to a fully-deserved Grand Slam last season, but Lièvremont was less impressed by his team's showing during their disappointing summer tour (to South Africa and Argentina) and has wielded the axe accordingly.

France drop Bastareaud

Thus, a handful of players who previously seemed nailed on for their 2011 Rugby World Cup berths are now sweating on their inclusion at all after Lièvremont issued a most public rebuke.

Players of the acknowledged international calibre such as Stade Toulousain duo Clément Poitrenaud and Vincent Clerc, as well as Stade Francais centre Mathieu Bastareaud have all been told to stay with their clubs and rediscover the form and (just as importantly) attitude that brought them recognition in the first place.





Editor's Blog: Debutants Racing-Métro 92 and Toulon offer Heineken Cup refreshment

By Colin Spiro, 04 October 2010

Racing Metro's Sebastien Chabal in action
Star attraction:
Sébastien Chabal

Photo: Eoin Mundow/
Cleva Media

After nine fascinating rounds of Top 14 the French league now takes a fortnight's break as all eyes turn towards Europe, and more precisely the prestigious Heineken Cup.

Top 14 has certainly proved irresistible viewing so far this season and the break comes with just one point separating the first four teams, and only five between leaders Racing-Métro and ninth-placed Biarritz. Those stats alone amply illustrate the openness of this season's championship race and augur well for a close-run campaign that should be alive right to the death, so to speak.

The big-hitting trio of Clermont Auvergne, Perpignan and Stade Toulousain will, of course, all make it into the play-offs - although in which position remains to be seen - bat as with last year there are a couple of surprise runners in the leading pack.





Why we love French rugby - Part II

By Colin Spiro 24 September 2008

Watching the mass brawl between Toulon and Stade Francais recently got me thinking about the importance of the physical aspect in rugby, especially the French variety.


Some people decry such behaviour and say it has no place in the game, but not me, and dare I say it not the majority of those who either pay to attend or watch from their armchairs.


As long as there?s no serious long-term injury it seems to me that rugby punch-ups are part and parcel of what is after all a very physical game.


When I was a kid growing up in England the BBC commentator Bill McLaren used to describe such incidents as ?a bit of rough and tumble? in his laconic Scottish drool, and often it?s more a case of handbags at six yards rather than serious assault.


Still, I?d far rather watch a couple of sixteen stone props slugging it out than an overpaid footballer swallow diving theatrically at the mere hint of an opponent getting within touching distance.


Bearing that in mind I thought a quick selection of some of rugby?s more ?physical? moments might make for entertaining viewing, beginning with that recent brawl at the Stade Mayol (www.youtube.com).


The French don?t seem to mind the odd on-field dust-up ? they even have their own phrase for it: bagarre générale.


The Toulon fight was sparked by an ongoing niggle between opposing props David Banquet (Toulon) and Rodgrio Roncero (Stade), but the real action ? and you?ll have to watch this a couple of times to really catch it ? is dished out by Toulon?s South African scrum-half Norman Jordaan (number nine).


Why We Love French Rugby - Part I


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