Springboks captain Siya Kolisi marked his Racing 92 debut with a victory as they overcame La Rochelle 32-10 in the Top 14 at Paris La Defence Arena on Sunday.
This was Kolisi’s first match since arriving in Paris after the Rugby World Cup and it was one to savour for the club’s fans as they got the better of the Champions Cup holders.
Tries from Juan Imhoff and Antoine Gibert were added to by a penalty try and points off the tee from Nolann Le Garrec as Racing went into the half-time break with a 24-3 lead.
La Rochelle had France international winger Teddy Thomas red carded in the 25th minute for a high tackle on Le Garrec that dented Ronan O’Gara’s team’s chances.
The visitors did strike first after the interval with a try from Yoan Tanga that was converted by Antoine Hastoy but they could not muster any more points thereafter.
A Tristan Tedder penalty on 57 minutes helped give Racing a 27-10 lead before they wrapped up the victory thanks to a late try from young England flyer Henry Arundell.
Unsurprisingly Kolisi was the centre of attention in the build-up to the Top 14 game as he was pictured warming up for his first match since the triumphant World Cup final.
— Racing 92 (@racing92) November 26, 2023
Kolisi started in the back-row alongside France international Wenceslas Lauret and Jordan Joseph while Les Bleus’ Cameron Woki was in the second-row for the hosts.
The Springboks skipper played for 54 minutes of his first Top 14 run-out before being replaced by Max Baudonne as Racing looked to see out the match in the latter stages.
They managed to do just that as La Rochelle’s second yellow card – after Pierre Bourgarit in the first half – went to Thomas Laclayat which dented their hopes.
Racing 92’s bonus-point win moves them to the top of the standings after Round Eight.
🔵 Siya Kolisi celebrates a bonus-point win on his Racing 92 debut.pic.twitter.com/u7JHHhieap
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) November 26, 2023