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Brive fans deliver their verdict on Stuart Olding

Stuart Olding in action for Ulster in October 2016 against Exeter Chiefs.(Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Stuart Olding has well and truly won over the Brive fans, if their end of season awards are anything to go by.

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Olding was voted the ProD2 sides’ ‘Player of the Season’ by fans, after he helped them to win promotion to the Top14.

In truth, the former Ireland international wasn’t long becoming a favourite at the club.

Olding’s dream first season in France did however suffer an unsatisfactory conclusion on the field. Brive were beaten in the Pro D2 championship final by the final kick of their match against Bayonne.

There were just 16 minutes remaining when Brive moved 19-15 clear, but they ultimately were unable to protect that advantage. With six minutes left Bayonne shortened the margin to a single point. Then came the decisive intervention, Bayonne’s Argentine Martin Bustos-Moyano despatching the crucial kick to dramatically seal a 21-19 win for the Atlantic coast club.

That punt – their seventh score off the tee in the match – was enough for them to be crowned champions and earn automatic promotion back to the Top 14, the top flight they were relegated from two years ago.

Olding has been rebuilding his career in the French second tier following his sacking in April last year by the IRFU despite being found not guilty – along with Paddy Jacksonfollowing a high profile rape trial in Belfast.

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The toxic fall-out from the case, which ended on March 28 last year, forced Olding to take a gamble and move to the French second division to keep his career alive.

Whereas Jackson has lasted just the single season in France and will now swop Perpignan (the team that will be replaced in the Top 14 by Bayonne) this summer for London Irish, Stuart Olding quickly settled in Brive and agreed a contract extension as early as last October that will keep him at the club until 2020.

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