PDA

View Full Version : France: March update



M Two One
02-03-11, 08:14 PM
http://i55.tinypic.com/2ezib0i.jpg


I haven't had the time to update every month, but I'd like to from here on out. This has been an interesting season for French clubs. In France each division has become aggressively competitive with clubs that were once relegation candidates now near the top. Elsewhere, French clubs has littered the quarters of the Heineken Cup where we have all French rugby in two of the four matches.






http://i56.tinypic.com/2wm3r77.jpg


The current table in the Top 14 is a bit off the mark from what many expected. After years of battling relegation Montpellier are finally in the spotlight sitting in fourth with 52 points and a healthy plus/minus difference. The club has a fine list of internationals on the squad. Team chemistry will be a vital one as they could be a dark horse for the Brennus this season.

The problem with the current position Montpellier are in is that a loss could vault another club all the way back in eighth place up to fourth. Clermont must also be cautious of this as they currently sit in third place only one point over Montpellier. Even with a solid plus/minus differential it could mean nothing if other clubs get hot and knock the defending champions out of the top four. I find that the problem lies in their offensive game. Clermont has been the top scoring club in league for a few seasons now and this season hasn't been the best. While Clermont was sleeping, Racing took over in second and will look to remain there for the rest of the season as they no longer have European competition to worry about.

Toulouse have a strong hold at the top of the table and will all likely qualify for the final phase. I must admit that they still have the best looking squad in Europe and considering that most of it is made up of French players, that is something to applaud. When it comes down the end of the season, we'll see if they have what it takes to earn both European and domestic glory.

Clubs outside of the top four like Biarritz, Castres and Toulon could squeeze out Montpellier and Clermont as all three are not far behind. Castres are only one point behind Montpellier, while Biarritz and Toulon have 49 points each. Castres could have an advantage down the stretch as Biarritz and Toulon are still competing in the Heineken Cup. Perpignan are also in the Heineken Cup and I believe the club will look to focus on that more than anything else. Their current position in the Top 14 isn't far from the top four, but with such high quality clubs in front of them I don't think they'll make a challenge unless two of those in front collapse under pressure.

Bayonne are peculiar as always. Despite all the issues going on behind the scenes the club is still floating around the top half of the table. I don't think that they will remain in their current position, but at least they'll be far from relegation down the stretch. One thing for certain is that their club president needs to make changes in how he runs things if any significant progress is to be made.

Stade Français and Brive continue to struggle in France this season. The Parisian club is one of the most dominant in French rugby history and still have yet to recover after last season. The reality is that things are getting worse and major changes need to be made in the near future. Brive on the other hand is struggling financially and are definite relegation candidates. If they are relegated, don't be surprised if their long-term contracts pull them down deeper. It could mean a fall akin to that of Montauban last season where they ended up in the third division.

La Rochelle and Agen are having decent seasons. Despite the controversy with Rupeni Caucaunibuca and letting him go, Agen have held their own. I honestly expected them to be at the bottom with Bourgoin. La Rochelle could also avoid relegation. Currently they sit in a relegation position, but are only three points behind Brive and four behind Agen with a good chunk of the season left to play. They also have a significantly better plus/minus than Agen. I wouldn't be surprised if they finish in eleventh.




http://i55.tinypic.com/1pggnc.jpg


Lyon Olympique Universitaire will win the Pro D2. It hasn't been set in stone obviously, but I'd like to just get that out of the way. Lyon haven't had much trouble this season swatting away clubs attempting to claw their way back to the top. I can't see them losing now when they're already eight points ahead of the Albigeois and they're having a difficult time keeping Grenoble away. So there you have it, Lyon is moving up and Bourgoin is moving down.

Albi were at the top of the table early in the season for a long time, but now they find themselves in second. In the end this yo-yo club may not even be joining Lyon in the Top 14 next season. Grenoble is having a great season and may finally launch themselves back into the spotlight after difficult times. They have been better than Albi offensively and have a win over them early in the season when Albi were at their best. These two clubs will meet one more time this weekend and it will likely prove to be a vital match.

Bordeaux-Bègles and Mont-de-Marsan are tied with 60 points each taking up the last two playoff positions in the table. Bordeaux-Bègles are ahead based on wins, but Mont-de-Marsan are crushing them in plus/minus differential as they remain the best defensive club in the league. The Landes club could pull an upset having defeated Grenoble twice this season, losing to Albi once and then crushing in their previous meeting.

On the outside looking in we have several clubs that have been flip-flopping positions all season long. Clubs ranked sixth to eleventh are only four points apart. Newcomers Carcassonne have shown that they belong in professional rugby with some big wins this season. Inconsistency has been the only thing holding them back from a spot in the top five. Oyonnax are having a somewhat disappointing season. After a few years of "just-misses" into the top flight they have struggled to keep up with the top five and currently sit seven points out. Pau are also having a disappointing season as several media sources had them finishing in the top five hands down. I had them as my pick for promotion through the playoff, but they aren't likely to find their way there. Keeping the players they have and working with more of their youth should prove flourishing by next season. Dax are having the worst season of any club in the league. After being relegated from the Top 14 it has been a struggle for the small town club to keep up with the lower ranks. Instead of looking to possible promotion as they did before the season started, further relegation may be on the table as they sit in fifteenth place.

Aurillac was a surprise when they were promoted a few seasons ago. They continued to improve and eventually looked primed to compete for promotion before this season started. Early on things looked great, but as the season wore on they started to lose important matches that should have been theirs. They currently sit in eleventh place with 50 points, still only ten out of a playoff position. Tarbes are playing fairly well late into the season and may have a shot at challenging for a spot in the playoff. A long history of inconsistent play could haunt them though as they sit in sixth place with 54 points.

When Narbonne was relegated from the Top 14 a few seasons ago many expected them to take some time to gain promotion again. I don't think anyone expected it to take this long though. The club no longer has the support it once had from the media and have gained a new status: one that floats around at the bottom of the toilet waiting to be flushed.

Auch have finally recovered from their disastrous spell in the Top 14 a few seasons ago. When they were promoted to the top flight they had an amazing record in Pro D2 the previous season. I suppose that when their highs were crushed under the weight of those bigger clubs their morale hung on by a single thread. That's one hell of a strong thread barely avoiding further relegation once back in Pro D2. It looks like they're back on track now to return to being a mid-table second division club in France.

Saint-Etienne are new to professional rugby and this first season in their short history in the Pro D2 should not be considered a disastrous one despite their performances. The club has a micro budget and a stadium that only holds approximately 3,000 people. With that, they also do not have any star power. Their inevitable relegation could be met by either Aix-en-Provence or Colomiers if Dax doesn't wake up to realize what position they're currently in.




http://i53.tinypic.com/2gt5ez5.jpg http://i55.tinypic.com/1127iqf.jpg http://i54.tinypic.com/s4c8bs.jpg http://i55.tinypic.com/5mletw.jpg

On to the lower leagues of France, I'm going to write about the clubs that matter the most. In Fédérale 1, there are a few clubs that could establish themselves well in Pro D2 next season. In Group 1 there are a few decent clubs with Bressane being the biggest of the bunch, but they've had such a dismal season it isn't even funny anymore. I don't think any club from this group has a chance at promotion, but I will praise Massy for their efforts. With such a small budget they have proven that smaller clubs with excellent team chemistry can dominate.

Group 2 holds former French giants Béziers. After missing out on promotion back into professional rugby last season, the club went through a massive change and currently sit at the top of the table. Montauban sit in second place, thirteen points out, but still in a playoff spot. Even though bankruptcy threw them down two divisions they could still make a challenge for promotion into Pro D2. Blagnac will also move on to the next phase and Nice continue to improve at a rapid rate now moving over Valence d'Agen in the group. I would like to praise La Seyne for recovering from their poor form early this season.

In Group 3 there have been some changes since I last updated. Limoges started lackluster to what was expected of them but have now moved ahead of Périgueux at the top of the table. Périgueux was sitting pretty for the entire season up until a few weeks ago. They still have a match in hand and are only three points out of first, but their recent form hasn't been as amazing. Vannes look good this season as well after picking up a win over Limoges early in the season and one over Périgueux more recently. The rest of the field is out of the race, but I have to point out how **** poor Tours have been this season. They sit at the bottom of their group with only two wins and a plus/minus of -428.

Group 4 has been by far the strongest of any in the league. This is obviously expected since the group is situated in the southwest of France with the exception of one club, Lille. Oddly enough, Lille have held their own despite being reprieved of automatic relegation in a court battle during the off season. I suppose the league officials seen it punishing to put them in a tough group far from any other northern opposition. It hasn't worked out that way as Lille sit in second place over quality clubs like Castanet, Lannemezan and Oloron just behind them in the table. Tyrosse are the big boys here though as they have dominated this group and are one of the top selections for promotion this season. Saint-Jean-de-Luz should have been relegated last season by default, but were saved by other clubs in debt that were forcibly relegated. This season they are currently in the top half and their youth program has a few future French internationals on board.



http://i56.tinypic.com/2q891jn.jpg


Fédérale 2 has been dominated by Stade Phocéen. The Marseille-based club is still undefeated through eighteen matches with 90 points and a plus/minus of 799. Second placed ROC La Voulte-Valence, a super club formed during the off season between two clubs, have accumulated 57 points with a plus/minus of 77. No other club in this group matters.

Arras are leading the way in the northern group with 57 points and not looking back. They would have a better club heading back to Fédérale 1 if they were to attain promotion this season. Clermont-Cournon, Vichy and Compiègne are in a battle for the top spot in their group. I really wanted to see one of France's oldest clubs, Courbevoie, win this group, but avoiding relegation at this point would be good enough.

Chambéry have taken control of their group, but former Brennus holders Vienne are right behind them and could gain promotion through the playoff. Nîmes finally have a healthy lead in their group after months of battling for the top spot with several other clubs. I like Céret to push for promotion in the playoff.

Rodez is at the top of my favorite group. Three other clubs will look strongly at promotion through the playoffs, but I think that Decazeville has the best chance of the three. Vallée du Girou and Castelsarrasin may have to wait until next season. I've been happy with Bagnères in their group, but I want to see them win it. A big win over a mid-table club could prove vital as second placed Bizanos lost over the weekend. Hagetmau lead the way, but are only two points in front.

Stade Français' ugly twin sister Saint-Jean d'Angely lead their group by nearly ten points. The pink and blue laden club could make some noise next season in Fédérale 1 if they were to attain promotion. They have decent finances and strong support. Cognac were a strong pick from this group before the season started, but have been very disappointing.

Charles
03-03-11, 02:46 AM
I hope Montpellier can stay strong and get to the 1/2 at least, that'd be great.

Also, they've done a very smart recruitment for next year (again), wih guys like Amorosino, Privat, Martin etc...

M Two One
04-03-11, 02:21 AM
I agree, Montpellier have done a wonderful job so far and their patience has finally paid off.

Amobokoboko
05-03-11, 08:03 PM
Missed out some Clermont games, are they still giving away too much penalties?

TRF_Hulkster
05-03-11, 09:12 PM
Charles or M Two One how is Lomu getting on with Marseilles? Is there somewhere I can view the Lyon side or who they have in their squad? Is Lee Thomas tearing it up?

TRF_Olyy
05-03-11, 10:09 PM
http://www.lourugby.fr/equipe-pro-d2/

Apparently Lee Thomas took off where he left at Sale - Plays well in a couple of games then goes out injured for a month or so

I love the little 5 second clips they have on the player profiles :lol:

TRF_Hulkster
05-03-11, 10:38 PM
http://www.lourugby.fr/equipe-pro-d2/

Apparently Lee Thomas took off where he left at Sale - Plays well in a couple of games then goes out injured for a month or so

I love the little 5 second clips they have on the player profiles :lol:

Cheers recognise very little there.

Remember cyRil saying he saw Lee Thomas boozing in Cardiff during the AI's :lol:

M Two One
07-03-11, 01:43 AM
Cymro, Lomu's side is now called Stade Phocéen and as I've mentioned they're tearing apart Fédérale 2. I know that he doesn't appear in a lot of matches, but he's doing well and is quite happy.

TRF_Hulkster
07-03-11, 02:06 AM
Cymro, Lomu's side is now called Stade Phocéen and as I've mentioned they're tearing apart Fédérale 2. I know that he doesn't appear in a lot of matches, but he's doing well and is quite happy.

Ah cool, when did they change their name?

M Two One
07-03-11, 05:07 PM
In dramatic fashion, the Albi v Grenoble match ended in a 16-16 draw. Narbonne also earned a much needed victory 25-24 over Oyonnax. Aix-en-Provence also helped their chances of remaining in the league with a huge win 23-18 over Bordeaux-Bègles.


Ah cool, when did they change their name?

The club wanted a new identity after administrative relegation last season. You can read about their current domination in the league in the write up above. I also posted their new logo. Marseille continued their dominance this weekend by destroying bottom table club Vinay 112-nil. The club has scored 1006 points in 19 matches, only allowing 95 against.

TRF_Hulkster
07-03-11, 06:15 PM
In dramatic fashion, the Albi v Grenoble match ended in a 16-16 draw. Narbonne also earned a much needed victory 25-24 over Oyonnax. Aix-en-Provence also helped their chances of remaining in the league with a huge win 23-18 over Bordeaux-Bègles.



The club wanted a new identity after administrative relegation last season. You can read about their current domination in the league in the write up above. I also posted their new logo. Marseille continued their dominance this weekend by destroying bottom table club Vinay 112-nil. The club has scored 1006 points in 19 matches, only allowing 95 against.

Ah cool, I bought this shirt:

http://cdn.tribesportsshopping.co.uk/products/images/000/093/307/show/marseille-vitrolles-jonah-lomu-ltd-edition-rugby-shirt-light-bluewhite.jpg

Came with Lomu on the back of it, was wondering where they had gone :lol: