European Rugby Season - closing credits: part 1 Underline 02 June, 2011
Mosese Ratuvou helped Lyon gain promotion to the Top 14 in France.
The rugby season in Europe is approaching its end with only one more club final to go – but does the season actually ever stop? There are already a series of internationals matches lined up for the Barbarians, there’s the Churchill Cup and down in the South Pacific they’re about to start the Pacific Nations Cup while SANZAR’s Tri Nations is not too far away and then when you think it’s all done and dusted the 'friendlies' begin, in preparation for the Rugby World Cup. 

On a club level, for many, pre-season training for the 2011-12 season starts in a few weeks. Such is the life of a professional rugby player now-a-days. 

So a quick look back at how Fijians fared in France, starting with Pro D2, and my choice of the top three players. Lyon won automatic promotion to the Top 14, with a little help from Mosese Ratavou, Vinaya Waka and Waisele Sukanaveita, who showed why many rate the dual Fiji international (league and union) as a real star. They have all been retained next season. 

No luck in the play-offs for the other promotion spot, for either Jone Daunivucu, 12 tries in 21 games, or Timoci Matanavou, as Bordeaux-Begles, who finished 5th and some 15 points behind Jone's Grenoble, secured the second spot. The 'Begley Boys' have now just six weeks to put together a team capable of competing at the next level up; so don't be surprised if a few 'Islanders' join their ranks. 

At the other end of the table, it was Colomiers and St Etienne who filled the last two places, but the former may yet be thrown a life-line, as Narbonne's cash debt of 1.2 million Euros has seen them having to appeal against the financial relegation imposed by the powers to be. If unsuccessful, they will be the fifth professional French club, in as many years, to be forced to play at a lower level because of insolvency. 

Where does that leave those Fijian players contracted to these, and other Pro D2 clubs? Colomiers' Vereneki Goneva, and Malakai Bakaniceva are both heading to Tarbes, and not Biarritz and Bayonne,as previously reported. 

Jone Tawake is already heading from Narbonne to Toulon, leaving Sunia Koto and Sionasa Vunisa uncertain of their futures. The other 'transfers' are as follows: 

Aix-en-Provence: Seva Rokobaro to Toulon (Top 14). 

Auch: Aloisio Butonidualevu to Grenoble; Joseva Domolailai (younger brother of Isoa Domolailai who plays for Tarbes) in from Bobigny (Fed1). 

Aurillac: Dan Baleinadogo to Mont de Marsan joining William Ryder; Villame Maya to Nevers (Fed 1); Fero Lasagvibau retiring; Marika Vakacegu in from Sale Sharks (England). 

Carcassonne: In come Isake Katonibau and Joeli Lutumailagi. 

Lyon: Sisa Koyamaibole from Sale Sharks. 

Alipate Fatafehi from St. Etienne. (Again a question as to if he is Tongan or Fijian? The French press seem to think he’s Fijian.) 

Things could yet change as the recruitment period continues. 

And so to the Rugbymarc PRO D2 'Palme D'Or'. (Golden Palm). TIMOCI MATANAVOU. The Mont de Marsan winger has had an incredible season, 19 tries in 28 games with 21 'starts'. Nearly 2100 minutes on the pitch, (75 minutes per game). He is now heading to Toulouse to test his skills amongst the best in France. 

Seva Rokobaro's outstanding form since the new year, not only finds him going to Toulon, but also helped Aix away from relegation. 30 hours played, participating in every game, not only sees him take the Pro D2 'Silver Palm', but also my player to be the surprise choice in the RWC squad (If released by Toulon). 

'The Bronze Palm' is shared between two Fijians. In his first season in professional rugby in France. Thirty matches played, 8 tries, and only 120 minutes out of a possible 2400 on the bench.

Congratulations to Aloisio Butonidualevu. My other choice is Vinaya Waka, often unsung, and in his 4th season at Lyon. He also played over 30 hours in total and held the backline together, allowing that top 14 promotion. 

Hopefully the break all players, not involved in world cup preparations, are now enjoying will allow them to recharge their batteries after a long, hard season. 

For the players of Montpellier and Toulouse, that will have to wait until at least next Sunday, as the two teams compete for the French Championship. 

Next week that result, the Top 14 'Palms', whose going where and what happened across the channel 'last season'. 

Marc @ Rugbymarc.
Other June 2011 News Underline
Flying Fijians team list versus Tonga 28 June, 2011 
Nadroga beat Suva 13-9 to claim the Digicel Cup 26 June, 2011 
Flying Fijians PNC squad named 24 June, 2011 
Digicel Cup Final team lists 24 June, 2011 
Fiji U20s humble Wales 34-20 23 June, 2011 
Waqa to manage Flying Fijians 21 June, 2011 
Tikoisuva: Never any question of Fiji not competing at the RWC 21 June, 2011 
Tikoisuva appointed Fiji Rugby's acting CEO 20 June, 2011 
Fiji U20 beat Tonga and enter 5th place semi-final 19 June, 2011 
Fiji U20s need bonus point win against Tonga 18 June, 2011 
Suva defeat Naitasiri to make Digicel Cup final 18 June, 2011 
Fiji RWC 50 man training squad named 18 June, 2011 
Lee Smith's Coaching Corner: The Development of Attacking Play (Part 6) 16 June, 2011 
Digicel Cup Semi-Final Two team lists 16 June, 2011 
Dakuidreketi resigns as Fiji Rugby CEO 15 June, 2011 
Young Fijians test Australia 15 June, 2011 
Fiji U20 go down fighting against France 24-12 11 June, 2011 
England Survive Scare on Day One of IRB Junior World Championship 11 June, 2011 
Nadroga thrash Northland 42-10 in Digicel Cup semi 11 June, 2011 
Nacewa and Qovu out of RWC 10 June, 2011 
Lee Smith's Coaching Corner: The Development of Attacking Play (Part 5) 09 June, 2011 
Gabiriele's Gold, Caucau's silverware 09 June, 2011 
Digicel Cup Semi-Final One team lists 09 June, 2011 
Nakarawa on the radar 09 June, 2011 
BSP Farebrother-Sullivan Challenge order announced 06 June, 2011 
Deacon's plates 05 June, 2011 
Suva beats Naitasiri to claim home semi-final 05 June, 2011 
Domoni announces PNC squad 04 June, 2011 
Two more Fiji Rugby Kaji players head for the UK 03 June, 2011 
Fiji U20 squad named for JWC 03 June, 2011 
Fraser impressed by locals 02 June, 2011 
European Rugby Season - closing credits: part 1 02 June, 2011 
Reflective Practise in Physiotherapy 01 June, 2011 
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