It’s been a tough few years for Biarritz Olympique, with the former giants of French rugby plying their trade in Pro D2 since 2014 and struggling to make their way back to the Top 14.
They have qualified for the promotion playoffs in two of the four seasons they have spent in the competition, but currently sit 8th in the table as we pass the halfway mark of the season, four points off of 6th and the promotion playoffs.
Finances and player recruitment and retention have been an issue for the club in recent years, but the future is beginning to look brighter for the two-time Heineken Cup finalists, with Rugbyrama reporting the additions of two key front rowers for the 2019/20 season.
Ruffenach, 24, spent four years in French Basque Country after coming through the La Rochelle academy, clocking up over 65 appearances for the club between 2012 and 2016. His move to Montpellier has not been as fruitful as he would have hoped on the pitch, with opportunities few and far between behind Bismarck du Plessis.
Watremez, 29, started his career at Biarritz before moving to Montpellier in the summer of 2012, a summer in which he won his sole cap for France, when Les Bleus toured Argentina. The loosehead has made over 100 appearances for Montpellier to date and had been an integral part of the club’s rise to prominence, but opportunities for Watremez have begun to dry up, too.
The pair are proven operators at the Top 14 level – with Ruffenach’s RPI sitting at a healthy 72, despite a bit-part role – and should significantly bolster Biarritz next season, whether that’s in a bid to survive in the Top 14 or win promotion from the Pro D2 at the sixth time of asking.
Watch: Rugby World Cup city guide: Oita
Watch the Heineken Champions Cup Final live on RugbyPass throughout Asia and Australia.