Does Toulouse have as much fangs as Lyon?
A week ago, after a very comfortable victory at the expense of Pau (38-10), Ugo Mola took the opposite view of those who praise Stade Toulousain. “A bit too much of a game in this match, but the score remains very satisfactory. Playing is not having fun, it is respecting the simple bases of this sport which is undoubtedly the simplest on earth: you have to move forward, apply yourself and keep the continuity of the game when you are able to do. “
Too critical, too demanding the manager of Stade Toulousain? No, just aware that the faultlessness of the French champions is a blessing from an accounting point of view but that it offers itself as a trompe-l’oeil. Stade Toulousain does not master its rugby as much as its invincibility might suggest.
Julien Marchand and his teammates are they able to raise their level of play so early in the season? This is undoubtedly what Lyon will impose on them to succeed in prolonging their invincibility and equal the record of straight victories (11) of their elders of 2008-2009. The LOU, who has already made a mistake in Gerland at the Union Bordeaux-Bègles hall, is a big performance in Biarritz (40-5). LOU manager Pierre Mignoni put pressure on his executives this week. The Lyonnais are hungry. And the Toulouse residents?
UBB and the Renaissance of Pau
A draw in Castres, a victory in Lyon: if we met sideways his false start in Biarritz during the first day, Union Bordeaux has negotiated its trips rather well. It is possible that the Bordelo-Béglais have clearer ideas on the strategy to adopt when they have their ambitions, act against it. Their start to the season, between “soil sombra”, leaves you wondering. “We have room for improvement because we only do match-ups,” assures Julien Laïrle, the UBB forwards coach that the victory over Montpellier (27-23) left unsatisfied. For a team looking for a consistent performance, the trip to Pau is an excellent revelation.
Under the direction of Sébastien Piqueronies, the Palois are in the process of rebuilding an identity and demolishing what made their team fragile and wobbly. Their conquest is more reliable than the previous seasons, in touch in particular, their defense is more airtight, their alternation between hand play and kicking play, much more balanced. And in this area, we will therefore follow with interest the duel between the two forerunners Matthieu Jalibert and Antoine Hastoy who should rub shoulders and even compete this fall with the Blues.
La Rochelle catching up
It is common for a team that has lived a season as full as that of the Rochelais, two-time finalists last spring, suffers from a sluggish start-up the following season.
With only two wins (but 3 bonus points) on their march, Ronan O’Gara’s players are behind on their march. And when Grégory Alldritt, their captain, affirms: “I can do a lot better”, his whole team could espouse this observation. But there was for the Rochelais a first improvement last Saturday against Castres. It is to be confirmed on Saturday in Brive.
Jeremy Davidson, the manager of the CAB, had warned that he had to reckon with his team this season. Saïd Hirèche and his comrades are giving shape to the ambitions of the Irishman. Best quality-price ratio of the Top 14 (13th budget, with 17.6 million euros), the Corréziens have shown themselves so far intractable at home (average score 28-13). “This game can turn us over to the very positive for the rest of the season,” said Davidson. On the other hand, for the Rochelais, a poor performance as in Montpellier would cause gnashing of teeth.
Toulon under high tension
The small victory snatched at the expense of the Brivists (13-9) did not calm the Toulon malaise. The audience at Stade Mayol expressed it in their own way with a capital bronca last Sunday. On Saturday evening, Cheslin Kolbe will be presented to the supporters but it is unlikely that the greetings of the little magician from Kraaifontein, who arrived with an injured knee, will be enough for the happiness of the Var.
Patrice Collazo’s future at the head of the RCT is still pending and a defeat against Racing 92 could be fatal to the old pillar. But the start of the season for Ile-de-France residents is far from brilliant. Their pack is far from being as threatening as the previous seasons in the conquest phases in particular.