Preview: Toulon v Bayonne

Date published: January 30 2015

It’s been a difficult week for the French champions with Steffon Armitage and Xavier Chiocci being taken into custody on Wednesday.

The question is whether that will have disrupted their preparations for what would have been expected to be a formality against strugglers Bayonne on Friday evening.

Chiocci was released without charge on Wednesday evening, but it’s Armitage’s case which is more a concern, with the back rower kept overnight and facing a hearing on February 10th.

After yet another outstanding display against the Scarlets last weekend, the loss of Armitage for an extended period of time would be a big blow to the European champions.

Toulon opened their season in the Basque country, and their dominant scrum allowed them to control the game on their way to a comfortable win.

Since then, Bayonne have been up and down, but are still searching for a first win of the season on their travels.

While they currently sit tenth in the Top 14, they could be back in the bottom two depending on results this weekend.

They will go into the game without full-back Scott Spedding, who is away with France, as are Toulon quartet Alexandre Menini, Guilhem Guirado, Romain Taofifenua and Mathieu Bastareaud.

Matt Giteau will also be missing after going under the knife this week. His recovery from an adductor operation will play a major role in how high up the table Toulon finish.

Both teams should come into the game refreshed, Toulon after comfortable wins in the Champions Cup against injury-ravaged Ulster and Scarlets sides, while Bayonne put out their kids in the Challenge Cup.

In their last Top 14 action, the Basque side scraped to a victory at home to Lyon, whereas Toulon ended a two-game losing streak with a win over Racing-M