Les Jaunards have fallen far in the French Top 14.
Clermont, the defending champs who edged Toulon in last season’s decider, defeated Bordeaux-Begles 33-3 at home on the weekend, but, for all their 10 wins, are languishing in ninth position with just two rounds to play and will miss the playoffs.
Isaia Toeava, the 32-year-old former All Black, was at fullback against Bordeaux, former Chiefs and Steelers No 8 Fritz Lee started, while Loni ‘The Tongan Bear’ Uhila scored a try after coming on as a substitute. The visitors included Ed Fidow, Fa’asiu Fuatai, and Ben Volavola.
Lyon played well to beat Tony Ensor’s Stade Francais 44-3. Toby Arnold scored a try, while Mike Harris slotted three goals. Rudi Wulf, Toa Halafihi and Taiasina Tuifua also featured for the victors.
Oyonnax won the battle of the cellar-dwellers, 40-17 over Dominiko Waqaniburotu’s Brive. Ben Botica helped himself to a try and six goals for Oyonnax, while hooker Quentin MacDonald scored a try. Hika Elliot was again at blindside flanker.
Pau, preparing for a Challenge Cup semifinal against Cardiff this weekend, was trumped at home, 33-22 by Agen, for whom George Tilsley scored a try and Tom Murday started at lock. Pau’s line-up included fullback Tom Taylor, who kicked three goals, Conrad Smith and Benson Stanley, Colin Slade and Jamie Mackintosh.
Ma’a Nonu’s Toulon defeated leaders Montpellier 32-17, for whom Aaron Cruden kicked a conversion and Jarrad Hoeata started at lock.
Toulouse moved up to second with a 42-27 win over third-placed Racing-Metro. Charlie Faumuina – how the Blues and All Blacks would love him back – and Joe Tekori featured for Toulouse. Joe Rokocoko scored a try for Racing-Metro, while Dan Carter kicked two goals. Also starting were Anthony Tuitavake and Ben Tameifuna.
Castres, thanks to an Alex Tulou try and contributions off the bench from Maama Vaipulu and former Auckland prop Paea Fa’anunu, won 26-18 at La Rochelle, who fielded Victor Vito, Hikairo Forbes and Uini Atonio.
In the Aviva Premiership, a Jason Woodward try helped Gloucester to a comfortable 37-9 victory over Harlequins, who may need to bump up their strategic partnership with New Zealand Rugby. Josh Hohneck, John Afoa, Jeremy Thrush and Motu Matu’u all turned out for the cherry and whites, while Alofa Alofa and Mat Luamanu played for Quins.
Leicester Tigers were tipped over 27-21 by Northampton at Welford Road, a blow to the playoffs chances of Telusa Veainu, who scored a try, Mike FitzGerald, Valentino Mapapalangi and Logovi’i Mulipola. Ahsee Tuala scored a key try for Saints, while Piers Francis, Teimana Harrison and Michael Paterson all appeared.
Jimmy Gopperth’s impact – through three goals, not to mention a yellow card – was all over Wasps’ 30-15 victory over Worcester, who again fielded Jackson Willison, Ben Te’o and Bryce Heem at 12-13-14.
Sean Maitland’s Saracens put 41-6 on Bath, for whom Paul Grant, James Wilson and Kahn Fotuali’i all played.
Thomas Waldrom’s Exeter trounced relegation-bound London Irish 45-5. James Marshall, Ben Franks and Asaeli Tikoirotuma all featured for the Exiles.
Newcastle, with Sinoti Sinoti and Tane Takalua in the mix, defeated Sale 35-30 in the battle of the north. Bryn Evans, Halani Aulika and TJ Ioane all played for the Sharks.
The Guinness PRO14 is heating up, though not for South Africa’s Southern Kings, who were pummelled 45-12 by the Cardiff Blues. The latter started Gareth Anscombe, at fullback, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo and Nick Williams.
Treviso, who fielded Jayden Hayward, Monty Ioane, Nasi Manu and Dean Budd, won a fine, if narrow, 17-15 result at Leinster, for whom Jamison Gibson-Park and Michael Bent played.
Ulster, with Charlie Piutau and Sean Reidy in the mix, blanked Ospreys 8-0. Kieron Fonotia and Ma’afu Fia were on the receiving end.
Rhys Marshall’s Munster beat the Cheetahs 19-17 in Bloemfontein.
Glasgow beat Connacht 35-22. Callum Gibbins and Siua Halanukonuka played for Dave Rennie’s Warriors, while Connacht included Bundee Aki, Tom McCartney and Stacey Ili.
This weekend sees the semifinals of the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup.
Tell us what you think about the Rugby World Cup and you could win £100