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La Rochelle confirm 10 contract extensions, including Jack Nowell

By Liam Heagney
La Rochelle's Jack Nowell (Photo by Sylvain Thomas/AFP via Getty Images)

Double Champions Cup winners La Rochelle have taken a huge stride forward in the Ronan O’Gara plan to remain successful by confirming a list of 10 contract extensions – including four players on five-year deals.

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Among the quartet that have committed to the Top 14 club until 2029 is France No8 Gregory Alldritt, who sat out last Sunday’s Guinness Six Nations draw with Italy through injury.

Jack Nowell, the former England winger who moved across the Channel from Exeter last summer, has agreed to an extension keeping him at Stade Marcel-Deflandre until 2027.

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North vs South: Rhys Patchell on the difference he sees since playing in NZ

Welsh fly-half Rhys Patchell weighs in on the differences between playing for the Scarlets back home and where he is playing now, with the Highlanders in New Zealand

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North vs South: Rhys Patchell on the difference he sees since playing in NZ

Welsh fly-half Rhys Patchell weighs in on the differences between playing for the Scarlets back home and where he is playing now, with the Highlanders in New Zealand

Fijian back-rower Levani Botia is another to stick with the 2022 and 2023 European champions, shaking hands on terms through to 2026.

A La Rochelle statement read: “The club is proud to announce the extension of 10 of its players, including several senior players, for several seasons. In the youth category, five players have signed up.”

“2029: Gregory Alldritt, Pierre Bougarit, Thomas Lavault, Antoine Hastoy, Jules Favre;

2028: Remi Wardi;

2027: Jack Nowell;

2026: Levani Botia, Simeli Daunivucu, Hugo Reus.”

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The five 17-year-olds signed by the club were Temanatua Boichot, Gabin Garault, Enzo Jean, Doego Jurd and Peni Torau Vuetimaiwai.

La Rochelle were beaten 27-15 at Perpignan last Saturday in the Top 14. They are currently in ninth place, five points off Racing who occupy the sixth and final play-off place with 10 matches remaining. They are also away to the Stormers on April 6 in the Champions Cup round of 16.

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Poorfour 10 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

AI models are really just larger and less transparent variants of the statistical models that have been in use since Moneyball was invented. And a big difference between the Icahn centre’s results and AI today is that ChatGPT-like Large Language Models can explain (to some degree) how they reached their conclusions. In terms of what impact they will have, I suspect it will have two primary impacts: 1) It will place a premium on coaching creativity 2) It will lead to more selections that baffle fans and pundits. Analysts will be able to run the models both ways: they will see their own team’s and players’ weaknesses and strengths as well as the opposition’s. So they will have a good idea at what the other team will be targeting and the decisive difference may well be which coaches are smart enough to think of a gameplan that the other side didn’t identify and prepare for. For players, it places a premium on three key things: 1) Having a relatively complete game with no major weaknesses (or the dedication to work on eliminating them) 2) Having the tactical flexibility to play a different game every week 3) Having a point of difference that is so compelling that there isn’t a defence for it. (3) is relatively rare even among pro players. There have been only a handful of players over the years where you knew what they were going to do and the problem was stopping it - Lomu would be the classic example. And even when someone does have that, it’s hard to sustain. Billy Vunipola in his prime was very hard to stop, but fell away quite badly when the toll on his body began to accumulate. So coaches will look for (1) - a lack of exploitable weaknesses - and (2) - the ability to exploit others’ weaknesses - ahead of hoping for (3), at least for the majority of the pack. Which is likely to mean that, as with the original Moneyball, competent, unshowy players who do the stuff that wins matches will win out over outrageous talents who can’t adapt to cover their own weaknesses. Which will leave a lot of people on the sidelines sputtering over the non-inclusion of players whose highlights reels are spectacular, but whose lowlight reels have been uncovered by AI… at least until the point where every fan has access to a sporting analysis AI.

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