January 29, 2022

Toulouse and Bordeaux in the lead, Toulon and the Stade Français behind … After a three-week break, what are the trends?

After a three-week break to make way for international matches, the Top 14 resumes its rights for the 11th day, Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 November. The first months of competition delivered several lessons. On the edge of this new block and two weeks before the start of the European Cup, franceinfo: sport looks back on the main trends.

Toulouse and Bordeaux to widen the gap

We will not go so far as to say that Stade Toulousain and UBB will undoubtedly be semi-finalists of the Top 14 at the end of the season. But with ten and eight points ahead of the third, Haut-Garonnais and Girondins are warm, in the first two places in the standings. The Toulouse leader and his Bordeaux runner-up have lost twice, but the Union owes its slight delay to a draw in Castres.

This weekend, it will be a question of confirming – against Brive for Toulouse, Racing 92 for Bordeaux – without most of the internationals, including Jalibert, Dupont and Ntamack. Before meeting again, Saturday, December 4, for a real shock at the top in an already full Chaban-Delmas stadium (33,000 tickets sold). The opportunity for Christophe Urios’ players to take their revenge after the semi-finals of the Top 14 and the European Cup lost to the Stadium last year.

Montpellier and Lyon, for the best, but …

The LOU, like the MHR, comes out of a “blank” year. Understand a season ended prematurely, with no endings. In search of redemption, Lyon and Montpellier, 3rd and 4th with 26 points each, lead the pursuit behind the two ogres. However, a – slight – taste of unfinished hovers over their respective performances.

Far from the Hérault, Montpellier is a hit. Philippe Saint-André’s players drew a draw from Toulon before winning at Racing and Stade Français. It’s very simple, nobody does better in Top 14. The other side of the coin or simple accidents, the MHR conceded two losses at the GGL Stadium, against Toulouse and Clermont. Eleventh home team, Montpellier no longer has the right to make mistakes in the race for the Top 6.

With five wins for as many losses, the record of the LOU is most frustrating. Because apart from the correction suffered in Montpellier, precisely, the other four setbacks were conceded on the wire. Five points difference against Bordeaux and Stade Français, four in Racing and Pau: if Lyon has each time won the defensive bonus, it is not likely to satisfy Pierre Mignoni. With a little more consistency and Liam Sopoaga – All Black opener – in better shape, this LOU has a lot of potential.

Toulon and the Stade Français, there is an emergency

Will the famous electroshock take place? Pitiful 12th in the Top 14 with three meager victories, Rugby Club Toulonnais has just changed coaches. Patrice Collazo gave way to Franck Azéma at the beginning of November. Beaten by Clermont two days after taking office, the former coach of the ASM had three weeks to take the measure of a workforce amputated by injured players (Kolbe, Ollivon) or selected for selection (Gros, Villière, Isa, Etzebeth …). To be reassured, Toulon must win against Lyon on Saturday. And, if possible, with the manner: the last two victories against Brive and Biarritz (13-9 each time) did not convince the public of Mayol.

After a failed start, we thought the Stade Français refreshed by its three consecutive victories in October. Alas, the last two routs in Pau and against Montpellier have shown the limits of a team that is still looking for itself. Long awaited, the New Zealand center Laumape must do better. There is no danger yet, because the Parisians are only six points from the Top 6. But the Stade Français, already beaten twice in Jean-Bouin, will seriously have to raise its level of play.

Perpignan and Biarritz, graduates in the nails

In recent seasons, Bayonne, Oyonnax or Perpignan have suffered martyrdom after their rise to Top 14. This time, Biarritz and USAP, again promoted, have decided not to let it go, even if they occupy the last two places with 14 points. With three wins each, Basques and Catalans are in the game.

All is not perfect, like the two defeats conceded on their land. With a small point scrapped out of their bases, Biarritz and Perpignan do not shine when it comes to exports. It will also be necessary to ensure the probable awakening of Toulon and the Stade Français, which, without big surprise, will not play the maintenance all the year. More accustomed to fighting for their survival, Pau (9th with 22 units) and Brive (10th with 21 points) are already far away. But the BO and the USAP give hope to their supporters. And given the last season of the Sang et Or in the elite (2 meager victories in 2018-2019), it is already a small victory.

Like Taumeopeau triple scorer against La Rochelle, Perpignan is in the game this season. (NICOLAS PARENT / MAXPPP)