THERE SEEMS TO be a new controversy in French rugby each week, with the latest dispute based around certain Top 14 clubs’ insistence on playing French internationals yesterday despite the FFR’s request that players used in both Six Nations games so far be rested.
Toulouse ignored that agreement by starting scrum-half Jean-Marc Doussain and bringing Louis Picamoles off the bench against Biarritz. In Toulon, Mathieu Bastareaud was used as a replacement, while Montpellier’s Nicolas Mas and Clermont’s Thomas Domingo also saw substantial game time.
Irish hopes were centred around Jonny Sexton staying on the Racing Métro bench, but that didn’t happen either.
Racing Métro recorded an 18-8 victory over Bayonne at the Stade Yves du Manoir yesterday, with Jonny Sexton appearing as a substitute for the closing 25 minutes. The Ireland out-half kicked two penalties in that time to help the Parisians to a crucial victory.
The Ronan O’Gara-coached club remain eighth in the league, a single point off the play-off places. More importantly for Ireland’s Six Nations hopes, Sexton emerged unscathed from his appearance.
On Friday night, the Bernard Jackman and Mike Prendergast-driven Grenoble notched their latest impressive win of an excellent season, beating Clermont 16-13 at the Stade des Alpes.
Former Clontarf man James Hart was used off the bench, having recovered from a recent stomach bug. The Irish scrum-half kicked a 70th minute conversion of Alipate Ratini’s try, and then played a part in Grenoble’s remarkable defence of their try-line as Clermont desperately searched for a winning score in the closing stages.
Grenoble stay in sixth in the Top 14 – inside the Heineken Cup qualification places – with seven regular season games left to play, four of which are at home.
Former Leinster lock Damian Browne was named to start in Oyonnax’s home tie with Bordeaux on Saturday, but the Stade Charles Mathon pitch proved unplayable after recent heavy rainfall.
Westmeath’s Mark Flanagan started in the second row for Mont-de-Marsan as they beat Auch 19-0 away from home. The ex-Leinster lock played 53 minutes on what was his 11th outing in the first-choice XV this season.
Mont-de-Marsan move up the Pro D2 table to tenth after this success.
Jeremy Davidson‘s Aurillac side recorded an 18-12 victory at home to Carcassonne as they continue their push for a promotion play-off spot. In the second row, Brian Hayes started the game and played 68 minutes.
Similarly to Flanagan, this was the former Munster man’s 11th start of an ever-improving season.