The Search for Silverware
14 April, 2011
|Kini Murimurivalu's try earned Clermont a semi-final spot. |
A weekend of high drama in the two European cup competitions; ASM Clermont and Stade Francais getting the better of La Rochelle and Montpellier respectively, in the Amlin Cup; Toulouse and Perpignan seeing off Biarritz and Toulon, in the Heineken Cup.
For Clermont, Kini Murimurivalu,s try in the 72nd min ended any hopes Norman Ligairi and Seru Rabeni might have had of making it a better season for them.
Former Fiji Navy player Sakiusa Matadigo's entry into the game in the 61st min could not help Montpellier recover a game, which at one stage they led 16-0, but finally lost 32-28.
The 2 winners meet in the semi-finals for a place and chance of silverware in Cardiff, in May.
In front of 55,000 spectators, in Barcelona, and 30° heat, Gabirieli Lovobalavu's efforts were in vain, as Toulon went down 29-25 in an enthralling match. But perhaps the cliffhanger was played out at San Sebastian. Biarritz came back from 17-0 down at half-time to the cup holders, to level the game in the 78th minute. An Ilikena Bolokoro try making it 17-17 in the rain.
The missed conversion took the game into extra-time. Toulouse, without Rupeni Caucau or Vilimoni Delasau, finally sealed the match in the last minutes, with a 'charged down' try; they now must go to Dublin to meet Isa Naweca and Leinster. His try against Leicester being decisive. The dream of a second European cup medal continues.
While all this was going on, the ProD2 campaign continued. Waisale Suka was again outstanding as Lyon pursued the route to the Top 14 with an away win at Tarbes; two more Daunivucu tries allowing Grenoble to stay in touch of the leaders.
At the other end of the table, Vereniki Goneva's Colomiers win closed the relegation gap to a single point over Dax, who lost despite an excellent game from Ratu Naisa Narukutabua.
Other news: Deacon Manu's recovery from his broken arm in a game back in December, is taking longer than expected. He will not play again this season for the Scarlets; RWC hopes in doubt!
Flying Fijian 7's captain, Seremaia Burotu has signed a contract to play for Biarritz next season.
Sevanaia Rokobaro is moving up from Aix to Toulon. An incredible mover from the lower echelons of French Rugby in Federal 1 to Top 14 all in the space of 3 years. All of which brings me to the topic of the week.
The subject of contracts came to the fore with the news that Nadolo's Exeter Chiefs may be deducted points for irregularities over his registration, after his move from Bourgoin in France.
He was withdrawn from the team sheet against Bath last week-end, when it became clear that the use of his Australian passport to play in England conflicted with his registration as a 'Fijian'.
The Aviva premiership allows only two 'foreign' players in the named squad of 23; This was not the case for the match against Leeds. Players are reliant on their agents/managers to oversee any moves between clubs, to arrange the legal documents etc.
Normally these matters go smoothly; such agents/managers are approved by the rugby federations, and often qualified in law. However there are the occasional problems, as above. They may be complicated when two languages are involved. Fijians playing in France is such a case.
There is a thing called the 'pre-contract', a signing of a document with a view to agreeing terms. Matadigo found himself in conflict over such a situation; A pre-contract with Colomiers, while committing himself to a move to Montpellier. Happily the court case was in his favour.
So those looking in the direction of France, make sure everything is in order. In the next two years there will be greater restrictions on the registration of non 'E.U' players, or those not 'formed' in France. Agents are a 'necessary evil', much derided in football circles, but still respected and regulated in rugby.
Now for last week's questions – View article: A French countdown.
1.The magic number is 25. Matanavou - 15 tries and Daunivucu - 10 tries.
2. One; Why? Because although Josh Matavesi has moved to Racing Metro, he has yet to play. So it's a certain Nemani Nadolo, despite the problems.
3. Perpignan, Stade Francais and Bourgoin.
4. 45 - Twenty one in the Top 14, a figure that will change for the better next season; 24 in Pro D2.
That's all for this week.
Moce mada. Marc@rugbymarc