Stuart Olding's dream season in France suffers Pro D2 final heartache
Stuart Olding’s dream first season in France suffered a nightmare conclusion on Sunday, Brive 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.
There were six minutes left when the margin was cut 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.
That elevation will increased speculation that former All Black Joe Rokocoko, who played with them for a long stretch before his switch to Racing 92, could be tempted to rejoin them next season.
INCROYABLE ! ??? Grâce à une pénalité à la dernière seconde Bayonne s'impose face à Brive (19-21), décroche sa montée en Top 14 et le titre de champion de Pro D2. pic.twitter.com/PthFDhbsz0
— RUGBYRAMA (@RugbyramaFR) May 26, 2019
Meanwhile, all is not yet totally lost for Olding and the Brive team coached by his fellow Irishman, Jeremy Davidson.
Although defeated in a Pro D2 final where they scored the game’s only try through Sevenaia Galala on 50 minutes, they have a second opportunity to try and make the jump up as they will host Grenoble, the 13th placed Top 14 side, next Sunday in a last-chance play-off.
— TOP 14 Rugby (@top14rugby) May 26, 2019
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 Jackson – following a high profile rape trial in Belfast.
Whereas Jackson has lasted just the single season in France and will now swop Perpignan – the team that will be replaced in Top 14 by Bayonne – this summer for London Irish, 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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