Top 14 Preview: Round Five

Date published: September 7 2013

Squad depth is set to be a deciding factor this weekend as French clubs face their third round of fixtures in eight days on Sunday.

Squad depth is set to be a deciding factor this weekend as French clubs face their third round of fixtures in eight days on Sunday.

If the Ligue Nationale de Rugby's own recommendation that no player should be involved in thee consecutive games were to be followed to the letter, then around 120 player be sidelined for Sunday's action. Its a ridiculous situation.

The early log-jam is not something new, Top 14 organiser having to squeeze in 29 rounds (including the play-offs), nine European Cup weekends and 11 international Tests in their calendar year.

The LNR has to organise those playing weekends in tandem with respect for players' holidays and a pre-season window.

To make matters worse for clubs, any player having been on the paddock for more than 80 minutes in the first two matches, last weekend and Wednesday, “should not play in the third game” on Sunday, the LNR has advised.

“It's a recommendation which we started to mull over in February,” said Bernard Dusfour, head of the LNR's medical committee.

“It's the fruit of long discussions betweeen experts, that's to say, doctors and trainers but also coaches.”

Dusfour said that proper “biological rehabilitation” started 72 hours after a match, and a string of games close together risked increased levels of fatigue and with that injury.

Needless to say, coaches have not been left overly impressed.

Racing-Metro coach Laurent Travers said it was “impossible” to play three games in so little time, stressing that rugby was a traumatic contact sport which also demanded a “mental freshness”.

“If you don't pay for it immediately, it will come back later to haunt you,” added Stade Francais backs coach Jean-Frederic Dubois.

Players' union president Serge Simon promised “more radical” action should there be an overwhlemingly negative outcome to playing games so close together.

“But I firstly see the positive side: it's the first time that we're trying to fix a rule and there's a real debate about the health of players,” Simon said.

With a maximum of 35 players contracted to each club in the Top 14, there are some outfits that will undoubtedly suffer more than, say, Toulouse, Clermont or Toulon, big-spending clubs with large budgets.

Toulouse's trip to Montpellier headlines Round Five while two games in the capital will also gather attention as Racing Metro host Perpignan while Clermont visit Stade Français.

The top four clubs are all on the road as Toulon visit Biarritz.


Sunday, September 8 Kick-offs at 18.00 (16.00 GMT) unless otherwise stated
Toulouse v Montpellier 15.30 (13.30 GMT)
Brive v Bayonne
Biarritz v Toulon
Grenoble v Bordeaux-Begles
Oyonnax v Castres
Racing Metro v Perpignan
Stade Français v Clermont 21.00 (19.00 GMT)


CA Brive-Corrèze v Aviron Bayonnais
Stade Amédée-Domenech, Brive-la-Gaillarde

Brive – who were thrashed in Toulon on Wednesday – have had a difficult start to the season losing all three of their away games so far, but they were solid winners at home to Bordeaux in Round Two.

Likewise, Bayonne were humiliated in Clermont midweek but sit in midtable by virtue of two home wins.

Boths side rested their bet players last time out and will see Sunday as a chance to pick up points.

Brive: 15 Laurent Ferreres, 14 Guillaume Namy, 13 Arnaud Mignardi, 12 Riaan Swanepoel, 11 Gaetan Germain, 10 Romain Sola, 9 Jean baptiste Pejoine, 8 Sisaro Koyamaibole, 7 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 6 Petrus Hauman, 5 Arnaud Mela, 4 Julien Ledevedec, 3 Patrick Barnard, 2 Guillaume Ribes, 1 Goderzi Shvelidze,
Replacements: 16 Francois Da ros, 17 Karlen Asieshvili, 18 Olivier Caisso, 19 Hugues Briatte, 20 Thomas Sanchou, 21 Thomas Laranjeira, 22 Elia Radikedike, 23 Kevin Buys,

Bayonne: 15 Scott Spedding, 14 Martin Bustos moyano, 13 Joe Rokocoko, 12 Gabiriele Lovobalavu, 11 Marvin O'Connor, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Opeti Fonua, 7 Julien Puricelli, 6 Jean Monribot, 5 Lisiate Faaoso, 4 Dewald Senekal, 3 Nemiah Tialata, 2 David Roumieu, 1 Aretz Iguiniz,
Replacements: 16 Gregory Arganese, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Abdellatif Boutaty, 19 Dwayne Haare, 20 Guillaume Rouet, 21 Manu Ahotaeiloa, 22 Matthieu Ugalde, 23 Gert Muller.

Previous result: Brive 30-10 Bayonne (2011)
Prediction: Home win. Brive by six
Kick-off: 18.00 (16.00 GMT)
Referee: Patrick Pechambert

Biarritz Olympique v RC Toulonnais
Parc des Sports d'Aguilera, Biarritz

The European champions travel visit a Biarritz languishing in the relegation zone.

Despite crushing Brive on Wednesday, Toulon boos Bernard Laporte was not happy with his said, accusing his players being more interested in “amusing themselves instead of hurting themselves.” Harsh words.

There is always pain to be felt in Biarritz, were route one rugby is par for the course.

Toulon are without suspended scrum-half Sébastien Tillous Borde but Mathieu Bastareaud will start despite carrying shoulder injury.

Former Stormers kicker Joe Pietersen starts at full-back for Biarritz.

Biarritz: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Takudzwa Ngwenya, 13 Benoit Baby, 12 Damien Traille, 11 Teddy Thomas, 10 Daniel Waenga, 9 Dimitri Yachvili, 8 Raphael Lakafia, 7 Ueleni Fono, 6 Benoit Guyot, 5 Pelu ian Taele, 4 Erik Lund, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Jean Philippe Genevois, 1 Alexandre Menini,
Replacements: 16 Romain Ruffenach, 17 Eugene Van staden, 18 Addison Lockley, 19 Tanguy Molcard, 20 Luix Roussarie, 21 Julien Peyrelongue, 22 Paul Couet lannes, 23 Benedict Broster,

Toulon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 David Smith, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Rudi Wulf, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Steffon Armitage, 7 Pierrick Gunther, 6 Virgile Bruni, 5 Jocelino Suta, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Sebastien Bruno, 1 Andrew Sheridan,
Replacements: 16 Benjamin Noirot, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Danie Rossouw, 19 Facundo Isa, 20 Alexis Palisson, 21 Josua Tuisova, 22 Matt Giteau, 23 Martin Castrogiovanni.

Results last season: Toulon won both: 36-9 away; 50-15 at home
Prediction: Biarritz could struggle. Toulon by seven points
Kick-off: 18.00 local (16.00 GMT)
Referee: Sébastien Minery

FC Grenoble v Union Bordeaux-Bègles
Stade Lesdiguières, Grenoble

After beating Toulon with their “A” team before being thrashed by Perpignan with their “B” team, Grenoble have changed their entire starting XV to line-up the strongest side available.

Bordeaux-Bègles have rested fly-half Pierre Bernard along with a number of first-choice players.

Grenoble: 15 Benjamin Thiery, 14 Matthieu Nicolas, 13 Rudolf Coetzee,