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608-day wait is over as Agen end an agonising 34-game winless run

By Liam Heagney

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Free-falling French club Agen have finally won a match for the first time since February 2020, snapping a 34-game winless run with a tension-filled 25-21 Pro D2 triumph on Friday over Aurillac. Having trailed 9-11 at the interval, a converted 68th minute try from Paul Graou pushed them 25-14 clear but even that cushion couldn’t alleviate the understandable nerves.

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A yellow card for Fotu Lokotui was followed by a converted try that left the visitors just four points in arrears and the result hung in the balance until the final whistle in the 83rd minute. 

Not only was the win the first for Agen in 608 days since their 30-16 triumph at Brive nearly a full 87 weeks ago, but it was also their first victory at their home Stade Armandie ground in two years, a run that stretched all the way back to an October 2019 27-19 success versus Stade Francais. 

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Ex-England skipper Chris Robshaw guests on RugbyPass Offload
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Ex-England skipper Chris Robshaw guests on RugbyPass Offload

The eventual cancellation of that season after their February 29 defeat to Clermont ultimately saved Agen from relegation in 2019/20, but there was no saving them the following season as they proceeded to lose all 26 matches and that barren return continued on into this year’s Pro D2 where they lost their opening seven games before finally getting over the line versus Aurillac for a first win in 35 games. 

The victory wasn’t enough to lift them off the bottom of the 16-team table and out of the relegation zone. They are still four points behind 14th place Narbonne, with 15th place Vannes one point clear of Agen’s tally of eight points. But they were definitely entitled to the boisterous dressing room celebration following another chaotic few weeks at the club.

It was October 12 when Agen tweeted that Christophe Deylaud, who had been chosen by coach Regis Sonnes on October 1 to work as a consultant, decided to stop because of deep differences with the manager who had appointed him. That resulted in the board of directors suspending Sonnes from his duties.

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Then this week it emerged that Bernard Goutta, who was seemingly the favourite to succeed Sonnes, had been blocked by Clermont from joining the crisis club while ex-France midfielder Richard Dourthe, another candidate for the role, doesn’t appear to have the full support within the Agen committee to enable him to take over. 

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