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Pro D2 2010/11


Harry's Game: Ambition - the driving force behind becoming a successful rugby club?

By Harry Spencer, 12 May 2011

Harry Spencer in action for Tarbes
Locked-in: Harry in
action for Tarbes

FRC columnist and Tarbes lock Harry Spencer gives his thoughts on what makes some clubs successful while others either flounder, or appear happy to plod along in mid-table obscurity...

One month ago a team-mate of mine wrote on his Facebook wall ?Cherch club avec ambition!!? which, to those of you who don?t know, translates as "Searching for a club with ambition!!".  It got me thinking, and over this past month I have gone over it many times. What is it that players look for in a club or team? How important is it? What characterises 'ambition'?

My first thoughts take me back about three years; I was a new addition to the Saracens academy at the time and we were coming to the end of my first season with the club. Then, if you were to ask someone to describe Saracens as a team you may well have come across the terms ?Mid-table?, ?Making up the numbers? and ?Team of mercenaries?. However harsh these might seem, they were ultimately true.


ProD2: Saint-André joins brother in Top 14 after Lyon clinch ProD2 title

10 May 2011

Pro D2 Logo
Mont-de-Marsan 48 Oyonnax 24
Pau 6 Grenoble 22
FC Auch Gers 29 Union Bordeaux-Bègles 27
Colomiers 35 Carcassonne 15
Dax 60 RC Narbonne 17
Aix-en-Provence 24 SCA Albi 25
Aurillac 35 Tarbes 21
Saint-Etienne 14 Lyon OU 23

It went to the last day of the regular season but Lyon OU finally clinched their historic promotion to Top 14 when they were crowned ProD2 champions on Sunday.

Rafael Saint-André's side narrowly missed out last season when they lost in the play-off final to La Rochelle, but they ensured against that by finishing first this time around to claim the solitary automatic promotion slot.

In they end they finished two points clear of Grenoble after winning 23-14 at basement club Saint-Etienne on Sunday, meaning Grenoble, Mont-de-Marsan, SCA Albi and Union Bordeaux-Bègles will now scrap it out in the play-offs for the other promotion berth.



ProD2, r29: Lyon on the cusp of Top 14; Dax face last-day showdown

03 May 2011

Pro D2 Logo
Lyon OU 19 Pau 9
Aurillac 21 Mont-de-Marsan 28
Union Bordeaux-Bègles 50 Tarbes 23
SCA Albi 31 Carcassonne 5
Oyonnax 39 Aix-en-Provence 32
FC Auch Gers 34 Saint-Etienne 19
RC Narbonne 23 Colomiers 17
Grenoble 31 Dax 24

Lyon OU will be promoted to Top 14 as long as they don't lose their final league game of the season - away to basement club Saint Etienne. Raphael Saint-André's will go into that match three points clear of second placed Grenoble after both teams won at the weekend, meaning only a massive shock result can now prevent Lyon from ascending to French rugby's top table. Saint Etienne have only won one match all season - in comparison to Lyon's 20 league victories - but the champagne will still have to remain on ice until victory has been assured.

Lyon's latest win was a hard-fought 19-9 home victory against Pau on Saturday. Both sides were level 6-6 at the break after a tense first half saw Lyon's Lee Thomas and Pau's Clément Darbo land two penalties apiece.



ProD2, r28: Lyon lose at 'home' in front of 30,000 as title race hots up

18 April 2011

Pro D2 Logo

A Jonathan Bousquet drop-goal two minutes from time condemned leaders Lyon OU to their first 'home' defeat of the season as they went down 19-18 in front of 30,000 fans at the Stade Gerland against derby rivals Oyonnax on Sunday. It was supposed to be their day of glory - with a win virtually assuring them ascendancy to Top 14 - but instead they now face a nervous finale as they seek to avoid a repeat of last season's heartbreak - when they lost to La Rochelle in the play-off finals.

Their weekend loss, combined with Grenoble's 13-10 home win against Aurillac on Saturday, means the race to claim the sole automatic promotion slot has very much become a two-horse affair, and is likely to go down to the final kick of the season.


ProD2, r27: Saint-André close to joining brother after Lyon OU win

13 April 2011

Pro D2 Logo

ProD2 leaders Lyon OU maintained their upward momentum with a 15-8 away win at Tarbes on Saturday - a victory that left them six clear of Grenoble with just three games left to play.

Their next two games are both at home - against Oyonnax and Pau - and Top 14 surely beckons if they can win those. Should they still need a result on the final day of the regular season then an away trip to basement boys Saint Etienne - who have won just once all season - shouldn't prove too taxing.

Lyon opened up a 6-0 lead after 24 minutes thanks to penalty from Pierre-Yves Montagnat and a drop-goal from Fijian Vinaya Wakanivuga, but Tarbes hit back with a try from outside centre Sébastien Caujolle, with Anthony Bourgeois then kicking a 40th-minute penalty to put them 8-6 ahead at the break.


ProD2, r26: Lyon OU a step closer to Top 14 after beating SCA Albi 25-12

04 April 2011

Pro D2 Logo

ProD2 leaders Lyon OU took a massive step towards Top 14 on Sunday when they defeated second-placed SCA Albi 25-12.

This latest win for Raphael Saint-André's side saw them open up a seven-point advantage at the top of ProD2, with Grenoble - who won at Oyonnax - now moving above Albi into second place.

A tense first-half saw both sides temporarily down to 14 men after Vinaya Wakanivuga and Sofiane Guitoune were yellow-carded in the 24th minute, while Lyon just edged the score by leading 9-6 at the interval thanks to a brace of penalties from Pierre-Yves Montagnat and a further success from Lee Thomas.

Albi had two Frédéric Manca penalties to show for their efforts, and the visitors' full-back added a third soon after the resumption to leave it 9-9.

But Lyon replied with three more penalties of their own (one for Montagnat and two for Thomas) before victory was finally sealed thanks to a try from former Bourgoin winger Franck Romanet six minutes from time.


ProD2, r25: Bonus time for top three as Lyon, Albi and Grenoble all win

29 March 2011

Pro D2 Logo
Aix-en-Provence 30 Mont-de-Marsan 15
Carcassonne 16 Pau 22
Dax 24 Union Bordeaux-Bègles 26
Tarbes 15 Oyonnax 19
Aurillac 21 Saint-Etienne 18
SCA Albi 34 Colomiers 15
Lyon OU 45 RC Narbonne 12
Grenoble 34 FC Auch Gers 6

Lyon OU remain in pole position to secure automatic promotion to Top 14 after they beat RC Narbonne 45-12 on Saturday to maintain their four-point lead over SCA Albi.

Raphael Saint-André's side dominated the first half, running in four tries as they opened up a 28-0 lead despite having Fijian centre Vinaya Wakanivuga sin-binned in the seventh minute. The hosts were already 7-0 up by then after winger Mosese Ratuvou had touched down with Pierre-Yves Montagnat adding the conversion.

Romanian prop Bogdan Balan and flanker Eugene N'Zi both went over for converted tries (in the 14th and 23rd minutes respectively) before Tongan hooker Ephram Taukafa completed the first-half rout by adding Lyon's fourth try just before the break.


Harry's Game: "There is something strangely satisfying about a good old rant"

By Harry Spencer, 22 March 2011

Harry Spencer in action for Tarbes
Locked-in: Harry
in action for Tarbes

FRC columnist and Tarbes lock Harry Spencer talks about the club banter, on and off-field expectations and why he believes mid-table mediocrity will do just fine, for now...

With six games of the regular season remaining Tarbes lie in 7th place in Pro D2, seven points under the play-offs and 15 points clear of the relegation zone. Not bad for a team who were facing demotion to Fédérale 1 only two seasons ago due to financial problems. It seems that, with a new president and new coaching set-up, a certain degree of stability has been brought to the Bigourdan club over the last two years.

A club with a rich history, albeit under a different name, and not shy of some controversy (RE: attempted merger with Lannemezan), is well on its way to establishing its new identity within French rugby. However, financial restraints still remain, results can be unpredictable, and the holy grail of the Top 14 still seems a million miles away.


ProD2, r24: Albi close gap after Lyon lose again; Dax win but still in danger

14 March 2011

Pro D2 Logo

ProD2 leaders Lyon OU slipped to their second consecutive defeat as they surprisingly lost 22-19 away to lowly Colomiers on Sunday afternoon.

Raphael Saint-André's side appeared well set as they opened up a 10-0 lead after half an hour, with Romain Loursac claiming all of their points via a try, conversion and penalty. But Colomiers fought back to parity before the break as Malakai Bakaniceva's try was supplemented by five points from the boot of Yannick Lafforgue.

The Colomiers fly-half then entered a kicking competition with Loursac after the break as each player landed three penalties apiece to leave it 19-19 with just seven minutes remaining. Colomiers had even withstood the loss of Romain Mémain to a 57th-minute yellow card, and their chances of victory took a further blow when Adrien Foucras followed suit four minutes from time - but up stepped Hugo Hernandez to slot the decisive penalty with the final kick of the game..


ProD2, r23: Lyon slip to rare defeat; Time running out for debt-ridden Dax

07 March 2011

Pro D2 Logo

ProD2 leaders Lyon OU lost for the first time in three and a half months as they went down 25-18 at FC Auch Gers on Saturday evening.

Pierre-Alexandre Dut (Auch) and Romain Loursac (Lyon) kicked four penalties each as the first half ended 12-12, with the visitors pulling level just before the break despite having Fijian Vinaya Wakanivuga in the the sin-bin.

The second half followed a similar pattern with Lyon 18-15 up after an hour before Auch number eight Mathieu De Pauw crossed for the game's only try. Dut added the conversion to put the hosts 22-18 ahead, with full-back Mathieu Peluchon going on to add a 78th-minute penalty to seal the win.

Lyon's loss was their first since November 21st 2010, but their eight-point lead was only trimmed by a single point as second-placed SCA Albi drew 16-16 at home to third-placed Grenoble on Sunday.


ProD2, r22: Narbonne part company with Ferrero; Lyon OU march on

02 March 2011

Pro D2 Logo
Pau 24 Tarbes 27
Carcassonne 39 RC Narbonne 5
Lyon OU 33 Aurillac 8
SCA Albi 27 Union Bordeaux-Bègles 8
Saint-Etienne 10 Mont-de-Marsan 31
Aix-en-Provence 28 Dax 13
Oyonnax 15 FC Auch Gers 12
Colomiers 22 Grenoble 22

Ambitious Lyon OU continued their march towards Top 14 with a 33-8 home win against Aurillac on Saturday that maintained their eight-point lead at the summit of ProD2.

Rafael Saint-André's side ran in three tries in their latest win - their 16th of the season - but were denied an attacking bonus when Aurillac lock Julien Maréchal touched down for the visitors in the closing stages.

Winger Rémy Grosso had earlier opened the afternoon's scoring with an eighth-minute try for the hosts as Lyon dominated the first half. Full-back Romain Loursac kicked the conversion and went on to add three penalties before the break, with Lee Thomas adding another (while Loursac was sin-binned) as Lyon opened up a 19-3 advantage.


ProD2, r21 review: Lyon stretch lead to eight points as Albi fall yet again

20 February 2011

Leaders Lyon OU stretched their advantage to eight points at the top of ProD2 following their 12-12 away draw at third-placed Grenoble on Sunday.

Lyon had to fight back from 12-6 down after Blair Stewart's fourth successful penalty for Grenoble (on 41 minutes), and also had to weather a home onslaught when down to 14 men due to Vinaya Wakanivuga's first-half yellow card.

But they did do successfully thanks to three points each from four different players, with Xavier Sadourny and Lee Thomas both landing drop-goals, while Romain Loursac and Pierre-Yves Montagnat kicked a penalty each.

The draw might have halted Lyon's seven-match winning streak, but it was another significant result for Rafael Saint-André's side as they pursue the solitary automatic promotion slot.


Harry's Game: Land Rovers, Limoges and learning the language - Life as a ProD2 lock

By Harry Spencer, 16 February 2011

Harry Spencer in action for Tarbes
Locked-in: Harry Spencer
in action for Tarbes

FRC is delighted to welcome Tarbes lock Harry Spencer as its latest player columnist. The 23-year-old second row joined Tarbes (in ProD2) from Saracens last summer and is now adjusting to the life of a professional rugby player in the French Pyrenees... For a fuller biog see the foot of this article.

In many ways my experiences of moving to France and a French rugby club are quite unique, but I get the impression that to a lot of people they are in no way surprising. It all really kicked off in the middle of June 2010, one day after returning from Canada with England Counties. From a number of rather expensive phone calls and frequent emailing, I had been made aware that the day I returned to England would also be the day before the deadline for French ProD2 contracts to be signed. Therefore hasty decisions were made and I ended up agreeing terms with Tarbes Pyrenees Rugby, a place I had never heard of, let alone visited.

2010/11 ProD2 Table

This started three weeks of frantic communications with the English speaking finance director at Tarbes, and what seemed like the mobilising of a small army to move everything and the kitchen sink from Hatfield, Herts - where I had been living for the past three years whilst playing at Saracens - to the heart of the French Pyrenees.


ProD2, r20: Lyon OU stretch lead to six points after Albi's home defeat

07 February 2011

Mont-de-Marsan 34 RC Narbonne 6
Saint-Etienne 18 Colomiers 24
SCA Albi 26 Pau 29
Aurillac 41 Carcassonne 21
Grenoble 67 Aix-en-Provence 18
FC Auch Gers 15 Tarbes 12
Lyon OU 21 Union Bordeaux-Bègles 13
Oyonnax 18 Dax 12

Rafael Saint-André's Lyon OU have opened up a six-point gap at the top of ProD2 following their weekend home 21-13 win against Union Bordeaux-Bègles.

The division's pace-setters have now 15 of their 20 league games, with their chase for automatic promotion aided on Sunday by nearest rivals SCA Albi slipping to a surprise 29-26 home defeat by Pau.

Lyon's latest win was their seventh on the spin, but they had to come from behind after former Waikato hooker Ole Avei had rumbled over for his fifth try of the season for Bordeaux (in the 18th minute).


ProD2, r28: Oyonnax falter again as SU Agen pull 13 points clear; Lyon OU up to third

19 April 2010

Pro D2 Logo
SU Agen 57 RC Narbonne 12
Lannemezan 16 Tarbes 39
Union Bordeaux-Bègles 14 La Rochelle 28
Pau 45 Aix-en-Provence 10
Mont-de-Marsan 29 Colomiers 29
FC Auch Gers 36 Oyonnax 20
Grenoble 28 Dax 5
Aurillac 18 Lyon OU 25

Runaway leaders SU Agen can put the champagne on ice after their eight-try demolition of RC Narbonne on Sunday took them within a whisker of automatic promotion to Top 14.

Only the most freakish set of results can now deny them after long-time chasers Oyonnax slipped up again ? going down 36-20 at FC Auch Gers ? meaning Agen have a whopping 13 point lead over second-placed La Rochelle.

With just two games to go that is sufficient to ensure La Rochelle cannot catch them, but third-placed Lyon OU are just a point further back and have a game in hand ? meaning they have a theoretical chance of finishing top if they win all three games with bonus points and Agen lose both of theirs without gaining a single defensive point.


ProD2, r27: SU Agen near promotion to Top 14; Lannemezan relegated

13 April 2010

Pro D2 Logo
Aix-en-Provence 10 SU Agen 31
Tarbes 40 Dax 21
Union Bordeaux-Bègles 46 Lannemezan 17
RC Narbonne 20 FC Auch Gers 19
La Rochelle 21 Aurillac 22
Colomiers 12 Pau 29
Mont-de-Marsan 31 Oyonnax 26
Lyon OU 27 Grenoble 19

SU Agen's seemingly inexorable return to Top 14 looks all but assured after they won 31-10 at Aix-en-Provence to open up a 10-point lead over Oyonnax, who slipped up away to Mont-de-Marsan. 

Tongan number eight Opeti Fonua was the Agen hero as the 23-year-old grabbed a first-half hat-trick of tries to leave him equal with last season's tally of nine - although this year it has been achieved with six fewer games.


ProD2, r26: Leaders Agen into play-offs on good weekend for top five

06 April 2010

Pro D2 Logo
Aurillac 36 Tarbes 18
Grenoble 28 Aix-en-Provence 5
Dax 19 Mont-de-Marsan 15
SU Agen 31 Colomiers 3
FC Auch Gers 3 La Rochelle 9
Oyonnax 16 Union Bordeaux-Bègles 6
RC Narbonne 3 Lyon OU 27
Lannemezan 15 Pau 21

ProD2 leaders SU Agen have become the first team to secure their play-off slot after their resounding 31-3 home win against Colomiers at the weekend.

Agen's latest victory - their 18th in 26 games - lifted them to 89 points, a full 22 clear of sixth-placed Pau with just four games to play. It also moved them six clear of second-placed Oyonnax courtesy of their eighth attacking bonus of the season.

South African fly-half Conrad Barnard kicked four penalties in the opening half four to ease them 12-3 ahead, with Fijian centre Saimoni Vaka adding a try just before the interval to stretch the lead.


ProD2, r25: Leaders SU Agen break clear after Pau down Oyonnax 17-6

28 March 2010

Pro D2 Logo

Long-time leaders SU Agen took another step towards Top 14 after a profitable weekend for the would-be champions. The visit of basement club Lannemezan proffered up a regulation five points as they eased to a 43-3 win on Saturday, while nearest rivals Oyonnax subsequently went down 19-6 at Pau on Sunday afternoon.

The two results combined to put Agen five points clear with just five games to go, of which three of those are at home.

Their dismantling of Lannemezan was predictable enough with the Agen collecting three unanswered tries in either half, with South African fly-half Conrad Barnard adding four conversions and a penalty for good measure.

Tongan back-rower Ueleni Fono began the rout with the opening try after 10 minutes, while Georgian prop Anton Peikrishvili and debutant Mathieu Lamoulie both also went over before the break. Lisiate Fa'aoso - another Tongan - and Cyril Chavet followed suit after the break, with the hosts also adding a penalty try as their dominance was complete.


ProD2, r24: SU Agen and Oyonnax neck and neck in promotion race

15 March 2010

Pro D2 Logo
Lannemezan 24 Colomiers 22
Tarbes 22 Lyon OU 16
Aurillac 24 FC Auch Gers 15
Union Bordeaux-Bègles 31 Pau 13
RC Narbonne 24 Dax 18
Oyonnax 36 Aix-en-Provence 18
La Rochelle 25 Grenoble 21
Mont-de-Marsan 18 SU Agen 12

Just two rounds after beating Oyonnax 23-11 to open up a six-point gap long-time leaders SU Agen now find themselves level-pegging with their championship rivals after losing 18-12 at Mont-de-Marsan on Sunday.

Agen's defeat - their first in seven games - left them tied with Oyonnax on 79 points, although their next two games at both at home to lowly Colomiers and Lannemezan.


ProD2: Leaders Agen held at Pau; La Rochelle's winning run ends at Lyon

11 March 2010

Pro D2 Logo
Mont-de-Marsan 46 Lannemezan 6
Grenoble 22 Tarbes 20
RC Narbonne 25 Aurillac 9
Lyon OU 20 La Rochelle 14
FC Auch Gers 15 Dax 21
Aix-en-Provence 13 Union Bordeaux-Bègles 10
Pau 16 SU Agen 16
Colomiers 12 Oyonnax 13

ProD2 leaders SU Agen were held to a 16-16 draw at Pau on Sunday as the play-off chasing home side recorded their fifth tie of the season.

In-form scrum-half Clement Darbo crossed for Pau on 27 minutes to open the scoring, adding the conversion himself and a subsequent penalty as they went 10-0 up shortly before the interval.

Both sides had a player sin-binned right on stroke of half-time, with Pau?s Jeremy Tomuli and Agen?s Laurent Cabarry ? both props ? seeing yellow.


ProD2: SU Agen beat Oyonnax 23-11 to take a massive step toward Top 14

01 March 2010

Pro D2 Logo
Union Bordeaux-Bègles 24 Mont-de-Marsan 21
Grenoble 27 RC Narbonne 14
Dax 22 Aurillac 13
Pau 16 Tarbes 15
La Rochelle 11 Colomiers 6
FC Auch Gers 18 Lyon OU 25
SU Agen 23 Oyonnax 11
Lannemezan 32 Aix-en-Provence 28

SU Agen took a massive step towards the ProD2 title - and automatic promotion to Top 14 - following their 23-11 home win against second-placed Oyonnax on Sunday. Their weekend victory lifted Agen six points clear of their nearest rivals with just eight games remaining as they continued their quest to secure top flight status.

Former Toulon fly-half Conrad Barnard kicked two penalties and a conversion as the hosts opened up a 13-6 half-time advantage, with the South African maintaining his impressive start for the leaders since joining after Christmas.


ProD2: SU Agen and Oyonnax both win again to set up title showdown

22 February 2010

Pro D2 Logo

Leaders SU Agen fought back from 3-9 at half-time to beat Union Bordeaux-Bègles 21-16 and set up a potential championship showdown with second-placed Oyonnax next weekend.

Agen opened the scoring through Conrad Barnard's sixth-minute penalty, but found themselves trailing at the interval after a nine-point burst in five minutes from Union thanks to a penalty from Henri-Pierre Vermis and drop-goals from both Jaco Van Schalkwyk and Raphael Lagarde.

Barnard's second penalty success narrowed the gap three minutes after the restart and Agen then reclaimed the lead when full-back Sofiane Guitoune touched down for the game's opening try on 47 minutes.

Barnard was on target with the conversion to make it 13-9, but the ProD2 leaders found themselves behind again after Tongan centre Saia Fekitoa scored a try (converted by Vermis) for the visitors on 54 minutes.


ProD2: SU Agen reclaim top spot; Aurillac win boosts play-off hopes

16 February 2010

Aurillac 36 Mont-de-Marsan 12
SU Agen 23 Dax 6
Colomiers 6 FC Auch Gers 9
Aix-en-Provence 19 Tarbes 21
Lannemezan PP Lyon OU PP

SU Agen have reclaimed the ProD2 lead following their weekend 23-6 home victory against Dax, a result which saw them move three points clear of second-placed Oyonnax.

The hosts won out thanks to a dominant performance from their pack as they warmed up for their forthcoming clash against Oyonnax (on Feb 27) with a comfortable home win in a match that was originally postponed from round 16 (on January 9) due to snow.

The conditions were below freezing again on Saturday, but Agen threw off their winter slumber (only one victory in their last four league games) as they eased clear in the second-half after being held to 6-6 in the opening period.


ProD2, r20: Oyonnax claim top spot after SU Agen are held at Grenoble

08 February 2010

Union Bordeaux-Bègles 16 Tarbes 9
Dax 3 Pau 3
Colomiers 13 Aurillac 9
FC Auch Gers 3 Mont-de-Marsan 19
RC Narbonne 43 Aix-en-Provence 10
Grenoble 12 SU Agen 12
Oyonnax 21 Lyon OU 6
Lannemezan 5 La Rochelle 31

Oyonnax are the new ProD2 leaders after long-time front-runners SU Agen drew 12-12 away to Grenoble on Saturday, paving the way for second-placed Oyonnax leapfrog into first place after their 21-6 bonus-point home win against Lyon OU on Sunday.

Agen?s latest result continued a run of indifferent recent form that has now seen them win just once in their last four league games, dating back to December 19th.

It may not have been a disastrous result given the context of the match ? drawing away to the fifth?placed side ? but it does mean they have now coughed up the ProD2 leadership (and a one-time 10 point lead), although they do still have a game in hand.


ProD2, r19: Leaders Agen back to winning ways; Victorious Pau maintain momentum

31 January 2010

Pro D2 Logo
Tarbes 7 La Rochelle 12
Aurillac 12 Union Bordeaux-Bègles 7
RC Narbonne 6 Oyonnax 13
Dax 34 Lannemezan 8
SU Agen 21 FC Auch Gers 6
Aix-en-Provence 20 Mont-de-Marsan 18
Pau 26 Grenoble 3
Lyon OU 50 Colomiers 10

ProD2 leaders SU Agen returned to winning ways at the weekend, beating FC Auch Gers 21-6 at home to banish the bitterness of successive league defeats to La Rochelle and Aurillac.

Tongan flanker Opeti Fonua got them off to a positive start with his fifth-minute try - his fifth of the season - but Agen failed to score again in the first half, ending up with a narrow 5-3 lead at the interval after Christophe Clarac had potted a penalty back for the visitors.


ProD2, r18: SU Agen lose again as Oyonnax trim their lead back down to just two points

26 January 2010

Pro D2 Logo
Mont-de-Marsan 18 Tarbes 12
Union Bordeaux-Bègles 21 RC Narbonne 12
Colomiers 10 Grenoble 10
La Rochelle 37 Aix-en-Provence 3
Oyonnax 29 Dax 10
Aurillac 19 SU Agen 17
Lyon OU 22 Pau 22
Lannemezan 10 FC Auch Gers 17

SU Agen's one-time 10-point lead has now been trimmed to just two as the pre-season promotion favourites lost their second successive league match - and their third in five games - as they went down 19-17 at Aurillac on Sunday.

The home side led 6-0 at half-time thanks to a brace of penalties from fly-half Jérémy Bourlon, and they eased further ahead soon after the restart thanks his third success at goal. But Agen then hit back in style, running in two tries in five minutes as Saïmoni Vaka and Rupeni Caucaunibuca both touched down for the visitors - for their fourth and seventh tries of the season respectively.


ProD2, r17: Agen and Oyonnax both lose as the chasing pack gains ground

18 January 2010

Pro D2 Logo
Tarbes 13 Oyonnax 9
RC Narbonne 56 Lannemezan 10
Dax 10 Colomiers 0
Pau 21 Aurillac 14
FC Auch Gers 17 Union Bordeaux-Bègles 6
Aix-en-Provence 12 Lyon OU 12
La Rochelle 20 SU Agen 10
Grenoble 14 Mont-de-Marsan 9

Leaders SU Agen lost for only the fourth time this season as they went down 20-10 at play-off hopefuls La Rochelle on Sunday.

The visitors took a fourth-minute lead courtesy of a François Gelez penalty, but found themselves trailing at half-time after Rochelle full-back Sébastien Boboul slotted two of his own in reply. The home side even survived going temporarily down to 14 men after hooker Franco Pani saw yellow in the 34th minute.


ProD2, r16: Pau demolish Narbonne; Oyonnax close gap on leaders Agen

12 January 2010

Pau 46 RC Narbonne 7
La Rochelle 25 Mont-de-Marsan 20
Oyonnax 13 Aurillac 10
Union Bordeaux-Bègles 27 Lyon OU 9
Lannemezan 10 Grenoble 43
SU Agen PP Dax PP
Aix-en-Provence PP Tarbes PP
Colomiers PP FC Auch Gers PP

Last season's play-off finalists Oyonnax took advantage of SU Agen's postponed home match (against Dax) to close the gap on the ProD2 leaders to six points following their weekend home win against Aurillac.

The hosts got off to an ideal star when free-scoring former Brive winger Jérôme Naves went over in the eighth minute for his sixth try of the season, but scoring was limited for the rest of the first half with both sides clocking one penalty each as Oyonnax went in 8-3 ahead at the interval.


ProD2, r15: Agen halfway to heaven after bonus-point win against Tarbes

21 December 2009

Pro D2 Logo
La Rochelle 21 Oyonnax 26
Union Bordeaux-Bègles 14 Grenoble 14
SU Agen 32 Tarbes 14
Aix-en-Provence 6 Dax 15
Lannemezan PP Lyon OU PP
Aurillac PP Mont-de-Marsan PP
Pau 3 FC Auch Gers 3
Colomiers 35 RC Narbonne 13

ProD2 reached the halfway stage at the weekend and leaders SU Agen once more underlined their credentials to claim the only automatic promotion slot with a resounding 32-14 bonus-point win against Tarbes.

The pre-season favourites have now opened up a 10 point margin at the head of ProD2 as they continue their relentless march towards Top 14.

Saturday's win was their 12th in 15 outings and they now look good value to avoid the somewhat unpredictable nature of the end-of-season play-offs. Last year they lost out to Oyonnax at the semi-final stage despite having finished clear of the chasing pack in second place - behind runaway leaders Racing-Métro 92 - but their dominant form so far this season would seem to suggest the play-offs will be superfluous this time around.


ProD2, r14: SU Agen stretch lead to seven points; Narbonne up to second

14 December 2009

Mont-de-Marsan 18 Pau 14
Tarbes 28 Colomiers 21
RC Narbonne 16 La Rochelle 13
Lyon OU 9 SU Agen 10
FC Auch Gers 35 Aix-en-Provence 14
Union Bordeaux-Bègles 17 Dax 16
Lannemezan 9 Aurillac 19
Grenoble 21 Oyonnax 13

ProD2 leaders SU Agen got back to winning ways at the weekend, edging out third-placed Lyon OU 10-9 to register a hard-fought away victory.

Romain Sola's 73rd-minute drop-goal sealed it for the visitors, adding to Laurent Cabarry's earlier try just before half-time. It completed a sound fightback by Agen after they had earlier dropped 6-0 behind and also seen hooker Jalil Narjissi sin-binned.


ProD2, r13: Lucky 13 for Lannemezan after first win; Agen lose at Narbonne

07 December 2009

Lyon OU 22 Aurillac 10
Tarbes 12 Lannemezan 13
Colomiers 10 Mont-de-Marsan 15
Dax 15 Grenoble 8
La Rochelle 27 Union Bordeaux-Bègles 13
Oyonnax 25 FC Auch Gers 18
Aix-en-Provence 21 Pau 16
RC Narbonne 22 SU Agen 16

Fédérale 1 champions Lannemezan finally registered their first ProD2 win on Saturday - at the 13th attempt - as they beat fierce local rivals Tarbes. Not only that, their maiden league win came on the road as they inflicted a 12-13 (that number again!) defeat on their Pyrenean neighbours.

It was a triumph of persistence for Lannemezan in the first Armagnac de Bigorre derby for 22 years, and also offers a glimmer of hope that survival may yet be achievable.

The visitors were 9-6 down at half-time as Richard Apanui outkicked Thomas Pochelu by three penalties to two, and it looked like being another valiant defeat when Apanui added a fourth success to make it 12-6 in the 68th minute.


ProD2, r12: Leaders SU Agen pull eight points clear after 10th victory

30 November 2009

Aurillac 25 La Rochelle 22
Grenoble 9 Lyon OU 9
Dax 19 Tarbes 16
Pau PP Colomiers PP
SU Agen 29 Aix-en-Provence 3
FC Auch Gers 27 RC Narbonne 32
Oyonnax 36 Mont-de-Marsan 10
Lannemezan 9 Union Bordeaux-Bègles 16

Pace-setters SU Agen have now opened up an eight-point gap at the top of ProD2 as they continue their seemingly inexorable drive towards securing automatic promotion to Top 14.

Their latest win - their 10th in 12 matches - saw them thrash struggling Aix-en-Provence 29-3 as they picked up their fourth bonus-point victory of an increasingly profitable season.


ProD2, r11: SU Agen consolidate to spot; Win-less Lannemezan lose again

23 November 2009

Pro D2 Logo
Pau 25 Lannemezan 12
La Rochelle 20 FC Auch Gers 6
Aix-en-Provence 13 Grenoble 15
Lyon OU 20 RC Narbonne 8
Mont-de-Marsan 16 Dax 5
Union Bordeaux-Bègles 17 Oyonnax 10
Tarbes 11 Aurillac 13
Colomiers 16 SU Agen 21

Rupeni Caucaunibuca scored his third try in seven games to help SU Agen win 21-16 at Colomiers and maintain their five-point lead in ProD2.

The Fijian's ninth-minute try opened the scoring at Colomiers, with Romain Sola adding the conversion for good measure as the visitors went 7-0 ahead. Two Frédéric Pujo penalties temporarily brought the hosts back to near parity before an 11-point burst either side of half-time took Agen 18-6 clear. Sola kicked a brace of penalties, adding to Adri Badenhorst's 41st-minute try.


ProD2, r10: Oyonnax make it magnificent seven (straight wins), but SU Agen still extend lead

08 November 2009

Pro D2 Logo
Mont-de-Marsan 15 Lyon OU 15
Aurillac 38 Aix-en-Provence 19
La Rochelle 29 Dax 10
FC Auch Gers 15 Grenoble 17
Oyonnax 16 Pau 9
Union Bordeaux-Bègles 31 Colomiers 9
Lannemezan 11 SU Agen 41
RC Narbonne 27 Tarbes 20

The top three teams in ProD2 all won at the weekend, but leaders SU Agen still manage to extend their advantage thanks to a bonus-point 41-11 victory at basement club Lannemezan.

The win-less hosts started brightly enough and were 6-3 ahead at half-time thanks to a couple of successful Manuel Cascarra penalties. But the 39th-minute yellow card for Nicolas Sentous proved costly, with Agen managing their first try in reply soon after the resumption through Jalil Narjissi.


ProD2, r9: Agen stretch lead; Oyonnax maintain six-match winning streak

02 November 2009

Grenoble 9 La Rochelle 9
Colomiers 17 Lannemezan 13
Pau 17 Union Bordeaux-Bègles 11
Lyon OU PP Tarbes PP
SU Agen 37 Mont-de-Marsan 8
FC Auch Gers 34 Aurillac 23
Aix-en-Provence 3 Oyonnax 16
Dax 3 RC Narbonne 17

Table-toppers SU Agen opened up a four-point lead in ProD2 at the weekend as they hammered Mont-de-Marsan 37-8 to record a bonus-point home win. The hosts ran-in five tries, including two in the final four minutes to secure the extra point.

A brace of Romain Sola penalties put them 6-0 up after 20 minutes, with the home side stretching their advantage after being awarded a penalty try shortly before the interval. Sola added the conversion, but was off target when flanker Opeti Fonua touched down eight minutes after the resumption to leave it 18-0.


ProD2, r8: SU Agen reclaim the lead; Lyon's late rally stuns La Rochelle

26 October 2009

Tarbes 28 Grenoble 18
Aurillac 15 RC Narbonne 3
Union Bordeaux-Bègles 21 Aix-en-Provence 10
Dax 22 FC Auch Gers 14
SU Agen 20 Pau 14
Oyonnax 31 Colomiers 15
La Rochelle 18 Lyon OU 19
Lannemezan 16 Mont-de-Marsan 18

SU Agen returned to winning ways, and the top of the table, thanks to their 20-14 home victory over Pau on Saturday.

The home side started in emphatic fashion, opening up a 20-3 advantage after half an hour courtesy of tries from lock Cyril Chavet (14th minute) and full-back Romain Edmond-Samuel (21st minute). Fly-half Romain Sola added both conversions and a brace of penalties, but Pau gradually clawed their way back into the match after making wholesale changes at half-time.


ProD2, r7: Narbonne take top spot after Agen's late defeat at Oyonnax

19 October 2009

Lyon OU 26 FC Auch Gers 6
Mont-de-Marsan 16 Union Bordeaux-Bègles 12
Tarbes 22 Pau 23
Aurillac 20 Dax 6
Aix-en-Provence 12 Lannemezan 8
Colomiers 19 La Rochelle 13
Oyonnax 12 SU Agen 10
RC Narbonne 32 Grenoble 0

RC Narbonne are the new leaders of ProD2 after they demolished high-flying Grenoble 32-0 to leapfrog over SU Agen, who went down 12-10 at Oyonnax.

Narbonne ran in four unanswered tries against Grenoble, with former Brumbies No 8 Jone Tawake setting the scoreboard rolling with his eighth-minute opener for the home side. Christopher Ruiz added the conversion and a subsequent drop-goal before 21-year-old Fijian winger Sionasa Vunisa grabbed try number two - and his fourth for the season - after 27 minutes.


ProD2, r5: Agen beat Grenoble to claim top spot; Provence get first victory

28 September 2009

SU Agen 22 Grenoble 16
Aix-en-Provence 24 RC Narbonne 19
Mont-de-Marsan 6 FC Auch Gers 16
Pau 16 Dax 14
Lyon OU 18 Oyonnax 22
La Rochelle 22 Lannemezan 6
Aurillac 22 Colomiers 12
Tarbes 15 Union Bordeaux-Bègles 12

Pre-season promotion favourites SU Agen took over top spot in ProD2 on Sunday, following their 22-16 home win over previous leaders Grenoble.

The combined boots of Agen's Romain Sola (three pens) and Grenoble's Pierre-Alexandre Dut (on pen and two drop-goals) dominated the opening period as the two teams were locked together 9-9 at the interval, but the hosts then surged ahead when Fijian winger Rupeni Caucaunibuca touched down just two minutes after the restart.


ProD2, r4: Grenoble take outright lead; Dax and Agen both win away

20 September 2009

Grenoble 16 Pau 15
Colomiers 12 Lyon OU 12
Union Bordeaux-Bègles 22 Aurillac 9
La Rochelle 16 Tarbes 6
Mont-de-Marsan 24 Aix-en-Provence 18
Oyonnax 13 RC Narbonne 6
FC Auch Gers 3 SU Agen 19
Lannemezan 11 Dax 23

Grenoble confirmed their status as early-season pace setters in ProD2 when thy made it four wins from four with a narrow 16-15 home victory over Pau on Friday night.

But the home side had to fight back from 0-9 down after half an hour as a trio of Andre Hough penalties potentially set Pau up for a second successive away win. Peni Fakalelu's 35th-minute yellow card changed the context of the contest, however, with Grenoble capitalising on the Tongan prop's exclusion to score the game's only try - through Julien Campo - right on the stroke of half time.


ProD2, r3 review: RC Narbonne, Grenoble and Lyon OU all win again

13 September 2009

Pro D2 Logo
Tarbes 36 Mont-de-Marsan 12
Grenoble 22 Colomiers 12
RC Narbonne 33 Union BB 12
Pau 9 Lyon OU 13
FC Auch Gers 28 Lannemezan 3
Aix-en-Provence 16 La Rochelle 22
Dax 27 Oyonnax 6
SU Agen 14 Aurillac 6

RC Narbonne are the new leaders of ProD2 after their 33-12 home win against Union Bordeaux-Bègles lifted them clear at the top courtesy of their attacking bonus point.

First-half tries from Fijian duo Jone Tawake ? his first since signing from the ACT Brumbies - and Sunia Vuli Koto set them on their way, with full-back Romain Martial grabbing their third midway through the second-half. Christopher Ruiz converted all three, and also landed a trio of penalties, as they eased passed a Union side reliant on Henri-Pierre Vermis? boot for all of their points.


Paul Dearlove column: The down sides to being a pro rugby player

11 September 2009

Pau captain Paul Dearlove in action
Paul Dearlove: 'I am
injured,... it's awful'

In the latest of his exclusive columns for FRC, Pau captain Paul Dearlove talks about the flip-side to being paid to play sport for a living...

As anyone can attest ? sometimes work sucks. Here are some of the down-sides of pro rugby.


I am currently injured, and it is awful. Not only do you lack the personal satisfaction of playing ? you miss that wonderful feeling when the team achieves something. Pau had a great win away at Aurillac last weekend and while I was excited, it can?t match the feeling when the final whistle blows and you have 22 other guys to share it with (to put it in perspective, since I?ve been at Pau we have played around 50 games away ? we have won six).

Look no further than Ewen McKenzie and Christophe Dominici (the ex-coaches of Stade Francais). Five weeks ago there was no doubt they were the men for the job. Now, they are without a job. This applies to players too, especially those in the UK. To explain this a little more fully ? if you are playing in the UK, there is often a clause in your contract that says if you are unable to play for any reason (it is most often applied for injury) for more than a stated period of time ? the club can terminate your contract. Just like that. As Donald would say... ?You?re fired?.


ProD2, round two review: Grenoble and RC Narbonne share the early lead

08 September 2009

Pro D2 Logo
Mont-de-Marsan 9 Grenoble 12
Aurillac 12             Pau 16
Union 23 FC Auch Gers 21
Colomiers 19 Dax 13
SU Agen 26 La Rochelle 21
Oyonnax 28 Tarbes 12
Lyon OU 36 Aix-en-Provence 14
Lannemezan 13 RC Narbonne 16

The pre-season theory that ProD2 could be the most open and level competition for many years already appears to be panning out with just three teams left with a 100% win record after only two rounds - Grenoble, Narbonne and Lyon - while two of the three clubs yet to record a victory were promoted from Fédérale 1 - Aix-en-Provence and Lannemezan.

It all adds credence to the belief that most teams will be able to beat each other on their given day this season, with supposed promotion favourites like SU Agen, Dax and Mont-de-Marsan all tasting defeat over the opening fortnight.

Agen went down 16-13 away to Dax in round one, but got that winning feeling back on Saturday when they held off a determined La Rochelle side to record a 26-21 home win.


ProD2, r1 review: Relegated Dax and Mont-de-Marsan start with home wins

31 August 2009

Pro D2 Logo

Grenoble 39 Lannemezan 10
Lyon OU 17 Union Bordeaux-Bègles 13
RC Narbonne 28 Pau 12
FC Auch Gers 31 Colomiers 22
Aurillac 25 Oyonnax 16
Mont-de-Marsan 22 La Rochelle 21
Tarbes 22 Aix-en-Provence 15
Dax 16 SU Agen 13

Relegated Dax made a positive start to life back in ProD2 as they beat promotion favourites SU Agen 16-13 in the standout tie of the weekend?s opening round of matches.

Thomas Lièvremont's men were 9-0 up half-time thanks to a trio of penalties from former Castres fly-half Anthony Lagardère, and when he subsequently converted a 50th-minute penalty try the home side had opened up a 16-3 advantage.


Paul Dearlove's exclusive column: 'Bloodgate' - "Most players thought it was a good idea"

27 August 2009

Pau captain Paul Dearlove in action
'No players objected':
Pau's Paul Dearlove

In the latest of his exclusive columns for FRC, Pau captain Paul Dearlove tackles the 'Bloodgate' scandal currently dominating the British (and global) game - including his own experience with the club-sanctioned use of blood capsules - and he asks where is the line truly drawn between acceptable and unacceptable levels of 'cheating'...

?If you?re not cheating ? you?re not trying!?

I have heard this from many coaches and players and I understand the mentality. Rugby is a game with many areas requiring interpretation and this opens the door to all types of games within the game.

But what is cheating? Slowing the ball down for two or three seconds is against the laws, but is it cheating? Holding or obstructing an opposition supporting runner for even the shortest moment can save a try - this is also unlawful but teams train strategies with dummy runners for exactly this purpose. I could go on but anyone who has played or watched a game of rugby could pinpoint innumerable examples of players ?cheating?.


ProD2: Troubled Tarbes unveil new president and name Mavrodin as their forwards' coach

29 July 2009

Tarbes supporters
Something to cheer
at last: Tarbes fans
Photo: Colin Spiro

Troubled Tarbes? turbulent pre-season is finally showing signs of stability, with the Midi-Pyrenees club announcing that Romanian hooker Razvan Mavrodin is to be the new forwards? coach.

Incoming president Jean-Pierre Davant confirmed the appointment after his own induction, saying that Mavrodin, 35, will work with backs coach Philippe Bérot.

 ProD2 Transfers / Pre-season friendlies

Former forwards coach Frédéric Bodin failed to appear at the start of pre-season training, together with team manager Christian Martinez, in a controversial turn of events where each party blamed the other.

Davant is hoping to draw a line under the episode now with the appointment of Mavrodin. The Romanian hooker - a veteran of 49 international caps and two spells with Tarbes ? said he had no hesitation in taking the job.


ProD2: Storm clouds brewing in Tarbes while local rivals Lannemezan sign 19 new players

18 July 2009

Lannemezan rugby club
All new: Lannemezan
have recruited heavily
Photo: Colin Spiro

ProD2 new boys Lannemezan have finalised their transfer activity for the forthcoming season, signing a whopping 19 players, including many from neighbouring clubs Tarbes and Pau. They have also brought Patrick Bentayou on board as an additional coach following the retirement of Michel Antichan.

They have also been granted permission by the LNR to play all their home games on Sunday afternoons, rather than Saturday evenings, due to inadequate floodlight facilities. A Similar arrangement was agreed last season for Bourg-en-Bresse.

Top 14 Table / Top 14 Transfers / ProD2 Transfers / Top 14 Fixtures 2009/10 / Pre-season friendlies

Local rivals Tarbes, meanwhile, continue to be mired in financial and political problems that are seriously hampering their own pre-season plans. They are currently subject to a transfer embargo having come within a whisker of being relegated to Federale 1 at the end of last season due to financial problems.


News: Stade Francais double their offer for Dupuy; DNACG threaten to relegate Tarbes

09 June 2009

Leicester Tigers' Julien Dupuy
Double your money:
Julien Dupuy
photo: Michael Paler

French side Stade Francais have doubled their bid for Julien Dupuy after Leicester Tigers refused their initial offer as derisory.

The want-away scrum-half ? currently on tour with France in New Zealand ? has made no secret of his desire to return to Top 14, but his hopes have so far been blocked by Leicester in the face of what they deemed an insufficient transfer fee.

Dupuy, 25, still has one year left on his contract with the Guinness Premiership champions and coach Richard Cockerill is adamant that the club must be properly compensated if losing a player they would ideally like to retain.

Top 14 Table / Top 14 Fixtures / Top 14 Transfers - The story so far...

Stade Francais have now doubled their initial bid to ?200,000, according to a report in the Leicester Mercury, although the paper said negotiations were likely to remain on hold until Dupuy returned from France?s summer tour.


News: Lannemezan and Aix-en-Provence promoted to ProD2 

01 June 2009

Lannemezan rugby club
On the up:
Photo: Colin Spiro

Lannemezan and Aix-en-Provence have both won promotion to ProD2 after getting through the final of the Trophy Jean Prat ? effectively a play-off system for teams from the amateur Fédérale 1 league.

Lannemezan upset the formbook by narrowly overcoming favourites Chalon-sur-Saone in their two-leg semi-final. They won the home match 16-9 last week before holding out for a 15-9 defeat in the return match ? giving them a one-point victory margin overall.

They will now meet Aix-en-Provence in the competition final after the latter beat Carcassonne in both legs, winning 18-9 and 35-25.

Both Lannemezan and Aix-en-Provence must now prepare for life as fully professional rugby clubs in ProD2, where they will replace Bourg-en-Bresse and Beziers, who were both relegated this season.


News: SCA Albi promoted back to Top 14 after play-off win; Balshaw double sinks England

31 May 2009

Iain Balshaw scoring for the Barbarians against England
Double delight:
Iain Balshaw
Photo: Michael Paler

SCA Albi have been promoted back to Top 14 after beating Oyonnax 14-12 in the ProD2 play-off final in Montpellier.

Winger Pierre-Gilles Lakafia, 22, was Albi's hero after scoring the only try of a tight match in the 28th minute. It means Albi have secured an immediate return back the big time following last season's relegation due to financial irregularities - the first time a team has bounced back at the first attempt.

ProD2 Table / Top 14 Transfers - The story so far...

But Eric Bechu's men didn't have it all their own way, and were even 6-5 down at half-time despite Lakafia's try. The erratic kicking of Frederic Manca cost them a hatful of potential points - eight in the first-half alone - as they clearly missed the accuracy of their injured Kiwi Blair Stewart.


ProD2 play-off: Unheralded Oyonnax one match from Top 14 after shock win at Agen

24 May 2009


Pro D2 Logo

SU Agen 15 (6) Oyonnax 18 (12)


Unheralded Oyonnax pulled off a major shock by beating favourites SU Agen 18-15 away from home to win the second semi-final of the ProD2 play-offs.


Again, like Saturday's first semi-final, there were no tries, but Oyonnax will care not a fig about that after stunning confident Agen with a disciplined and ultimately deserving win.


It means the Ain club will now play SCA Albi in the ProD2 play-off final, for the right to join champions Racing-Metro 92 in gaining promotion to Top 14.


Agen had gone into the match as overwhelming favourites having finished the regular season in second place, some nine points ahead of their fifth-placed rivals. In addition, the free-scoring hosts had amassed more than double Oyonnax's tally of 41 tries and had also beaten them at home and away during the season.



ProD2 play-off preview: SU Agen favourites to join Racing in Top 14 

22 May 2009

Pro D2 LogoThe ProD2 play-offs also get underway this weekend with four teams vying to join champions Racing-Metro 92 in getting promoted up to Top 14.

SU Agen finished second behind Racing and the once-mighty club are clear favourites to go up. Fist they have a home semi-final at the Stade Armandie against fifth-placed Oyonnax, a team they beat home (26-19) and away (19-3) during the regular season.

Agen ? eight times French champions - have been in prolific form during the second half of the season, boosted by the return to the club of controversial Fijian winger Rupeni Caucaunibuca.


ProD2: SU Agen, SCA Albi, Oyonnax and La Rochelle in promotion play-offs for Top 14

17 May 2009

Pro D2 Logo
FC Auch Gers 10 Lyon OU 12
SU Agen 32 Racing-Métro 17
La Rochelle 19 Tarbes 13
RC Narbonne 16 Oyonnax 29
SCA Albi 24 Béziers 6
Union 19 Grenoble 21
Pau 16 Aurillac 19
Bourg-en-Bresse 52 Colomiers 27

SU Agen will play Oyonnax, and La Rochelle will travel to SCA Albi in the ProD2 play-offs, to decide which team joins champions Racing-Métro 92 in going up to Top 14.

The four play-off hopefuls all won their final games, leaving Lyon OU to rue their poor form earlier in the season after their eighth win in nine games left them tantalisingly just one point short of qualifying.

La Rochelle began the day in third-place and knew that a win would guarantee their presence in the play-offs, something they achieved with a 19-13 home victory against Tarbes.


Paul Dearlove's exclusive column: The merry pranksters of ProD2's Section Paloise 

07 May 2009

Pau captain Paul Dearlove in action
'Pranksterism': Pau
captain Paul Dearlove

In the latest of his exclusive columns for FRC, Pau captain Paul Dearlove tries to explain what turns hardened rugby professionals into juvenile pranksters...

I don?t know if it is because professional rugby players get most of their decisions made for them (when to train, when and what to eat etc) and we need an outlet, or if it is because we are all infants at heart, but there is always an undercurrent of ?pranksterism? when we get together.

Acting like children (especially when we travel) seems to be the norm rather than the exception. Today I will give you an insight into the best pranks of the year at Section Paloise.

The biggest prankster at Pau is a 6ft 7,ins 120 kilo, former policeman, second rower. He set the tone of the season early when he decided anyone?s phone left in the locker room was fair game. Coaches, the club president and other players would receive text messages from a player usually criticizing something they?d done or said the previous week. The oblivious player would then receive a (usually terse) phone call from the recipient asking them to explain themselves.


ProD2: Tarbes and Pau fall from reckoning as the race for promotion goes to the wire

03 May 2009

Pro D2 Logo
Aurillac 37 FC Auch Gers 36
Racing-Métro 48 Bourg-en-Bresse 32
Tarbes 23 Pau 22
Grenoble 10 Oyonnax 18
Lyon OU 30 Union 10
SCA Albi 30 SU Agen 23
Béziers 37 RC Narbonne 18
Colomiers La Rochelle (Sun)

The race for play-off places became clearer at the weekend as outsiders Tarbes and Pau both fell from the reckoning, leaving just five teams battling for the four available slots.

Second-placed SU Agen are already guaranteed one of those, leaving SCA Albi, Oyonnax, La Rochelle and Lyon OU to fight it out on the final weekend, with a mere two points separating third from fifth. And the congestion could increase further when La Rochelle travel to Colomiers this afternoon for the weekend's final game - with an away win set to leave it two points between four clubs.

SCA Albi ensured their presence in the final-day drama with a hard-fought 30-23 home win against SU Agen.


ProD2, Round 29 preview: Who will join Racing-Metro 92 in Top 14 next season?

01 May 2009

Pro D2 Logo
Aurillac v FC Auch Gers
Racing Métro v Bourg-en-Bresse
Tarbes v Pau
Grenoble v Oyonnax
Lyon OU v Union
SCA Albi v SU Agen
Béziers v RC Narbonne
Colomiers v La Rochelle (Sun)

With Top 14 taking a break and only one French team (Bourgoin) involved in European action, the spotlight falls firmly on ProD2 this weekend and the race for promotion play-off berths.

Champions Racing-Métro 92 may have dominated the headlines during the week with their marquee signings of Sebastien Chabal and Lionel Nallet, but seven other teams are still in contention for possible promotion as ProD2 enters its penultimate round of matches.

Second-placed SU Agen ? the division?s highest scorers ? have already secured their play-off place (at home), but La Rochelle, SCA Albi, Oyonnax, Lyon OU, Pau and Tarbes all have a mathematical chance of joining them.


News: Chabal and Nallet lock in to Racing Metro's dream for fast track to success

29 April 2009

Sebastien Chabal an Lionel Nallet
Two of a kind: Racing Metro's
Sebastien Chabal and Lionel Nallet
Photos: Michael Paler

Racing-Metro 92 have confirmed the headline-grabbing double capture of French internationals Sebastien Chabal and Lionel Nallet.

Both had long been tipped to join the newly promoted ProD2 champions, with the pair reigniting a former club partnership they had together at Bourgoin.

Since then Chabal went on to become a cross-Channel hero following his transfer to Sale Sharks, but the iconic second row - who earns a fortune through his off-field advertising - declared he would be returning back to France earlier this season to be with his wife and children.

Nallet - the France captain - joins from Castres after a difficult season at both club and international level.


News: Racing president Lorenzetti gets shirty with Stade Francais; Hines snubs Perpignan for the Lions

29 April 2009

Stade Francais team hug
Getting shirty: Jacky Lorenzetti
has attacked Stade Francais
Photo: Michael Paler

Just days after securing promotion to Top 14 the needle has already begun, with Racing Metro 92 president Jacky Lorenzetti taking a sideswipe at his Stade Francais counterpart Max Guazzani.

"He considers the [Stade Francais] shirt as a kind of tool for merchandising. We believe it is the identity of the club," said Lorenzetti. "Do not touch the shirt - it displays the club's colours," he added.

Lorenzetti also confirmed that Racing would continue to play their home games at Colombes stadium next season - the former home of the national team before the Parcs des Princes - but that it would be extended to hold 14,000 spectators.


Feature: Racing to the Top - a closer look at ProD2 Champions Racing-Metro 92

By Colin Spiro, 26 April 2009

Francios Steyn
Wanted: Mercurial
fly-half Francois Steyn
Photo: Steve Haag
Back Page Sport.com

Racing-Metro 92 confirmed their promotion to Top 14 on Sunday, becoming the capital?s second club in France?s premier division.

But who, or what, are Racing-Metro 92, and what are their chances of making an impact in the top flight given the struggles of Toulon and Mont-de-Marsan this season?

Of last year?s two promoted clubs Racing bear strongest comparison to Toulon as they will go up on the back of sustained league success and bankrolled by an ambitious multi-millionaire.

For Mourad Boudjellal read Jacky Lorenzetti, the uber-wealthy boss of real estate giants Foncia who isn?t shy of investing his millions into Racing.


ProD2: Racing-Metro promoted to Top 14; Beziers relegated to Federal 1  

26 April 2009

Pro D2 Logo
RC Narbonne 21 Pau 15
Béziers 35 Tarbes 19
FC Auch Gers 7 SCA Albi 11
Oyonnax 27 Colomiers 16
La Rochelle 23 Grenoble 7
Lyon OU 27 Bourg-en-Bresse 10
SU Agen 16 Aurillac 12
Union 12 Racing Métro 33

Racing Métro 92 secured promotion to Top 14 next season - trading places with relegated Mont-de-Marsan - after they beat Union Bordeaux-Begles 33-12 on Sunday afternoon, and broke the 100 point barrier in the process.

Pierre Berbizier's runaway leaders notched victory number 23 - out of 28 - as they were finally able to pop the champagne that's been on ice for several weeks now. They will become the second Paris club in Top 14 - after Stade Francais - and are now set to unveil a raft of high profile signings, beginning with South African fly-half Francois Steyn.


Paul Dearlove's column: Only four British  and Irish Lions would get into my World XV 

24 April 2009

Italy's Sergio Parisse
Sergio Parisse:
Outstanding player

Photo: Michael Paler

In the latest of his exclusive columns for FRC, Pau captain Paul Dearlove runs the rule over Ian McGeechan's British Lions squad and sees how many would get in his own World XV...

While the rugby world digests Ian McGeechan?s British and Irish Lions this week ? I thought it would be an interesting exercise to pick a current world XV and see how many of those Lions would make it. There are some notable omissions (as there have to be) and I?m sure there will be many of you that disagree with certain selections (I certainly don?t agree with everyone that has made the Lions squad) but I will explain my reasoning as we go and should my team ever get the opportunity to play the Martians ? I reckon we?d do ok.

Let?s start at the front ? where rugby starts anyway. You should ignore whatever those little men with the nice hair say.


ProD2: Racing Metro '92 one win from confirming promotion to Top 14

19 April 2009 

Pro D2 Logo
Racing Metro 35 Auch 13
Tarbes 24 Oyonnax 15
Pau 11 SCA Albi 3
Colomiers 44 Union 16
Aurillac 25 Béziers 24
La Rochelle 37 Narbonne 16
Bourg 19 Grenoble 6
SU Agen 25 Lyon 0

Long-time leaders Racing Metro 92 will be promoted to Top 14 if they win at Union Bordeaux-Bègles next Sunday.

The ambitious Paris club are on the brink of joining the big time following their 35-13 home victory against struggling FC Auch Gers at the weekend ? their 22nd win of an outstanding campaign.


ProD2, round 26: Racing and Agen win again; Bourg-en-Bresse dent Pau's fading play-off hopes

13 April 2009 

Pro D2 Logo
SCA Albi 14 Racing 26
Bourg 31 Pau 12
Colomiers 19 SU Agen 28
Auch 6 Tarbes 16
Oyonnax 18 Union 17
Grenoble 17 Aurillac 20
Béziers 15 La Rochelle 9
Narbonne 6 Lyon 26

Runaway leaders Racing Metro 92 need just two more wins to guarantee automatic promotion to Top 14 after their 26-14 away victory at third-placed SCA Albi.

Sunday's win maintained their 12 point advantage at the head of ProD2, and the champagne can surely now be put on ice as they near completion of their season-long quest to join the big boys in France?s premier division.

Their latest victory ? their 21st of the season ? featured a try in each half from Samoan Sefulu Gaugau, as well as their now seemingly obligatory penalty try ? their fourth in successive games.


Paul Dearlove's exclusive column: Opinions and a***holes - Stop giving the ELVs a bum deal 

10 April 2009

Pau captain Paul Dearlove in action
Paul Dearlove:
Talking ELV's

In the latest of his exclusive columns for FRC, Pau captain Paul Dearlove gives a current player's insight into the Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) currently attracting such wide ranging criticism...

The thing about commenting on a topical issue is that no one listens unless you?ve got either an outlandish opinion or you point fingers ? why do you think David Campese still gets asked for comments?

That is why I just roll my eyes when I read the criticisms being leveled at the new laws being trialed to various degrees throughout the rugby world. Rugby luminaries and, in particular, the ?blazer brigade? in the northern hemisphere ? none of whom are actually playing anymore ? think the ELV?s are destroying rugby and all seem to want a return to the glory days when rugby was ?the running game?.

You know what they say about opinions and a***holes ? everyone has got one (and yes, I do see the irony of calling them a***holes while giving my own opinion in the same breath).


ProD2: Agen hang on to make ground as Racing Metro and SCA Albi lose

05 April 2009

Pro D2 Logo
Oyonnax 28 Racing 13
Union 25 Auch 8
Tarbes 20 SCA Albi 11
Lyon OU 25 Pau 12
Aurillac 25 Colomiers 15
Grenoble 23 Narbonne 16
Béziers 23 Bourg 26
La Rochelle 23 SU Agen 25

Leaders Racing Metro slipped to their first defeat in nine games as they went down 28-13 at Oyonnax on Sunday, with Pierre Yves Montagnat the home side?s hero.

The 23-year-old kicked five penalties to put Oyonnax in control and then rounded off a perfect afternoon by scoring his side?s only try (in the final minute) before dusting himself down to land the conversion.

Sébastien Bouillot and Bertrand Guilloux also claimed a drop-goal each as the hosts consolidated their play-off push with a victory that lifted them up from fifth to fourth.


ProD2: FC Auch Gers "99%" certain to go bankrupt as rescue deal fails

03 April 2009

FC Auch Gers logoTroubled Pro D2 club FC Auch Gers have a ?99% chance? of going bankrupt according to club chairman Eric Belooussoff.

He further added that the club?s dire financial situation ? caused by the withdrawal of funding by major sponsor Textilot ? was likely to result in it being ejected from Pro D2.

Belooussoff said he would personally finance players? wages until the end of the season to avoid the club having to forfeit league fixtures ? which would automatically result in demotion to Federale 3.


Paul Dearlove's exclusive column: Home truths, and the struggle to perform when playing away 

26 March 2009

Pau captain Paul Dearlove in action
Paul Dearlove:
Home comforts

In the latest of his exclusive columns for FRC, Pau captain Paul Dearlove asks why rugby teams have no problem getting up for home matches, but struggle to perform when playing away...

Pressure is something we all deal with on a daily basis. Meeting that deadline at work, organizing a present for your wife?s birthday (which turns out to have been yesterday ? who knew?) or a phone call from the principal of the school about why your child?s teacher needs six weeks stress leave.

It is a part of all our lives. But today I?m going to get specific and ask ? 'why is there so much more pressure when you play at home and does this provide an answer as to why the home team invariably wins?'

We lost our first game at home this season on the weekend. People had been talking about ?Fortress Hameau? and how teams feared coming here. Perhaps this had an element of truth and helped us in close games, but this doesn?t explain how we can win 12 games in a row at home and only win two games away.


ProD2 round 24: Pau and Oyonnax slip up,  Lyon push for a play-off berth

22 March 2009

Pro D2 Logo
Lyon OU 45 Grenoble 6
Bourg 24 Narbonne 16
Colomiers 31 SCA Albi 37
Pau 22 Union 27
Auch 15 Oyonnax 12
Racing 25 Tarbes 16
La Rochelle 36 Aurillac 19
SU Agen 51 Beziers 16

Two surprise defeats (for Pau and Oyonnax) shook up the fight for play-off places in ProD2 this weekend, with La Rochelle and Lyon OU the biggest beneficiaries as the season draws to a nail-biting climax.

La Rochelle climbed from sixth to fourth on the back of their 33-19 home win against Aurillac, while Lyon emerged as play-off contenders following Pau?s first home defeat of the season ? 22-27 by mid-table Union Bordeaux-Begles ? and Oyonnax?s 15-12 loss at FC Auch Gers.

Lyon stay in seventh position, but they are now just three points behind Oyonnax and Pau, who are tied on 65 points.


ProD2: SCA Albi beat Oyonnax; Agen up to third after last-gasp victory

16 March 2009

Pro D2 Logo
SCA Albi 30 Oyonnax 13
Bourg 20 La Rochelle 38
Pau 25 Auch 14
Colomiers 19 Racing 27
Union 12 Tarbes 27
Grenoble 16 SU Agen 20
Beziers 17 Lyon OU 56
Narbonne 23 Aurillac 23

Racing Metro ?92 moved another step nearer Top 14 rugby next season with a 27-14 victory away to Colomiers on Saturday.

The runaway leaders went ahead thanks to a brace of early Andrew Mehrtens penalties and Sireli Bobo?s 26th-minute try ? his seventh of the season ? but Colomiers showed admirable fight for the cause and refused to buckle in the face of the Parisians? onslaught.


Paul Dearlove's exclusive column: A week in the life of a professional rugby player

13 March 2009

Pau captain Paul Dearlove in action
Paul Dearlove:
weather expert

In the latest of his exclusive weekly columns for FRC, Pau captain Paul Dearlove takes us through a typical week for a professional rugby player. and explains why the backs always seem to be drinking coffee...

The typical week of a professional rugby player looks something like this:

Monday morning ? recovery pool session (if you played less than 30 minutes you have to do a fitness session before the pool).

Monday afternoon ? video of last weekend?s game. Weights followed by a short and light field session (lineouts/handling for forwards or passing for backs).

Tuesday morning ? weights and a speed session.

Tuesday afternoon ? rugby (usually something technical ? limited contact).

Wednesday morning ? weights followed by lineouts and scrums for the forwards and attacking plays for the backs (in reality the backs spend more time drinking coffee and talking about the weekend than actually running ? if I had a dollar for every time I said ?I wish I was a back? at training?).


10.03.09 - News: Lamb lined up by Racing Metro in place of Wilkinson; Toulon target Contepomi  
08.03.09 - ProD2: Racing halt Pau's surge; Oyonnax to third after beating Beziers
06.03.09 - Paul Dearlove's exclusive column: Me and my 'lucky undies';  The value of superstitions
01.03.09 - ProD2: Pau beat Oyonnax to climb to third, while Racing Metro surge on 
23.02.09 - ProD2 round 20: Racing Metro '92 power on while SU Agen lose ground
22.02.09 - ProD2: Pau battle back to defeat La Rochelle and move up to fourth spot
19.02.09 - Paul Dearlove's exclusive column: Drugs in rugby - Part II: The 'recreational' debate
17.02.09 - Racing Metro confirm their interest in Wilkinson, Chabal, Nallet and Steyn
15.02.09 - ProD2: Racing beat Agen to move 10 points clear; Aurillac's slump goes on
12.02.09 - Paul Dearlove's exclusive column: Drugs in rugby - Part I: Performance enhancing
09.02.09 - ProD2: Racing extend lead as rivals stumble; Bourg pull off shock victory
06.02.09 - News: Gloucester's Balshaw agrees to join French club Racing Metro '92
05.02.09 - Paul Dearlove's exclusive weekly column: Are 'les etrangers' good for French rugby?
04.02.09 - News: Seven French clubs questioned in agent payments scandal; Toulon target Azam
02.02.09 - ProD2 round 18: Racing win again but SU Agen lose ground after defeat at Oyonnax
28.01.09 - Paul Dearlove's exclusive column: Do the French deserve their reputation for foul play? - Part II
27.01.09 - ProD2: Tempers flare as La Rochelle beat leaders Racing Metro '92
23.01.09 - News: Toulouse beckons for David and Picamoles; FC Auch Gers saved
19.01.09 - News: Wilkinson tipped to join ambitious French club Racing Metro
18.01.09 - ProD2: Racing Metro 92 pull clear as La Rochelle stumble at Oyonnax
17.01.09 - Racing Metro confirm Chabal interest; Montauban ease financial worries
15.01.09 - Paul Dearlove's column: Do the French deserve their reputations for foul play?
12.01.09 - ProD2: La Rochelle up to second as Racing Metro and Agen are frozen out
08.01.09 - Paul Dearlove's exclusive column: Is professional rugby going to be credit crunched?
07.01.09 - News: Pro D2?s FC Auch Gers facing potential bankruptcy; Toulon?s troubles continue
21.12.08 - ProD2 round 14: Racing Metro stretch their lead as Aurillac lose at Auch
18.12.08 - Paul Dearlove's exclusive column: When two tribes go to war - The local derby
15.12.08 - ProD2, round 13: Racing Metro ?92 stay top as SU Agen build momentum
11.12.08 - Paul Dearlove's exclusive column: The game they play in heaven but who is playing God?
07.12.08 - ProD2 round 12: Top three lose as Racing Metro '92 reclaim top spot
05.12.08 - The Unknown Soldier - Life as a journeyman professional in France's ProD2
01.12.08 - ProD2 round 11: Aurillac recover against Grenoble to win and stay top
17.11.08 - ProD2 round-up: Aurillac reclaim the lead; Bourg stay bottom despite win
09.11.08 - ProD2, round 9: Racing regain lead after Aurillac defeat Stade Rochelais
03.11.08 - Pro D2, round 8: La Rochelle usurp Racing on a bad weekend For Paris
28.10.08 - Pro D2 round seven: Top two lose as La Rochelle go level with Racing Metro
20.10.08 - Pro D2:  Round 6 - Racing Metro ?92 regain the lead
06.10.08 - Pro D2: Round 5 ? Albi rise to the challenge
29.09.08 - Pro D2: Round 4 ? Grenoble go top after Aurillac suffer first defeat
22.09.08 - Pro D2: Round 3 ? Aurillac win again to move three points clear


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