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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 16 December, 2018

Donnacha Ryan will make his long-awaited debut for Racing 92 tomorrow

The 33-year-old has recovered from injury to start against Stade Francais.

Ryan has had to watch from the stands since his move to France.
Ryan has had to watch from the stands since his move to France.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

DONNACHA RYAN WILL make his long-awaited debut for Racing 92 in Sunday’s Top 14 clash with Stade Francais after recovering fully from a neck hernia injury which had kept him sidelined since his summer move from Munster.

After a frustrating start to life in France, Ryan has been named to start in the Racing second row alongside Leone Nakarawa for tomorrow’s game at the Stade Jean-Bouin.

It will be the 33-year-old’s first appearance since Munster’s Pro12 final defeat to Scarlets in May — which was also the last of his 167 caps for the southern province.

The IRFU’s decision to drop Ryan from the central contract list meant Munster were unable to match the lucrative offer the second row received from Paris, with his departure still provoking ire down south.

Racing, who will be captained by French hooker Dimitri Szarzewski and also have Pat Lambie, Joe Rokocoko and Juan Imhoff in their starting XV, head into the game with their Parisian rivals sitting in fourth place in the Top 14.

Earlier today, La Rochelle won their top-of-the-table duel with Montpellier 26-14 at home depose the visitors at the summit.

The hosts, aggressive in defence and stronger in the scrums, were not going to pass up a chance to unseat Montpellier who again struggled on the road, though not as badly as in their humiliating 26-0 loss at Racing the week before

La Rochelle, who have won all their home games this season, dominated but was unusually strangely uncertain and wasted several scoring chances in the second half when they could have built on a 16-6 lead.


Instead, Montpellier scored a try to close to within five points with 10 minutes left.

La Rochelle responded by bending their backs and pushed towards victory through the scrums they took each time they were awarded a penalty in the closing stages.

The home team put the seal on victory after winning a scrum in the 79th minute. Brock James side stepped three times as he went through to score the try which stripped Montpellier of a defensive bonus point.

“There are lots of things to look at and to work on,” said La Rochelle head coach Patrice Collazo.

“Montpellier wanted to improve after their display at Racing, they succeeded in stopping us playing and pushing us out of our game plan.”

In the first half, Montpellier paid for their errors and indiscipline.

Home fullback Vincent Rattez pounced on a dropped Montpellier ball after 16 minutes to launch a 70-metre counter attack with a kick downfield. Paul Jordaan gave chase and kicked on again before touching down.

Montpellier also conceded four penalties in range of their goal posts and Alexi Bales converted all of them

“We are disappointed to leave La Rochelle without a point” said Fulgence Ouedraogo, the Montpellier captain. “We made a huge effort but weren’t precise enough and were too indisciplined.”d.

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Ryan Bailey

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