French rugby is the gift that keeps on giving, with the next controversy never too far around the corner.
There’s always been a fierce rivalry between the club sides and national team, but things will take a new twist this weekend with Thomas Ramos set to play for Stade Toulousian against Castres Olympique on Saturday.
Ramos, who was the top points scorer in the Top 14 last season, was sent home from the Rugby World Cup in Japan last week after injuring his ankle in France’s surprisingly challenging match with the USA on October 2nd.
France head coach Jacques Brunel at the time said Ramos’ injury would keep him out of action for at least 10 days, which made it too much of a risk to carry the fullback in the squad.
“It’s a handicap for us,” Brunel said in Kumamoto last week. “We hope that in the next match nothing will happen. We will try to get [the replacements] to come as soon as possible.”
A 10-day injury would have presumably prevented Ramos from playing in France’s final two pool games against Tonga (October 6th) and England (October 12th).
Ironically, France’s final match with England has since been called off due to the approaching typhoon. Ramos would have also been an unlikely inclusion in France’s game with Tonga due to the short turn-around after the USA match. It’s entirely possible Ramos would have missed zero games that he was originally scheduled to play due to the injury, even if he’d remained with the squad.
Had the competition progressed as expected, carrying Ramos for 10 days without him being fit for selection would hardly be considered an unusual move anyway.
England have also persisted with Johnny May and Mako Vunipola, despite the pair missing a major chunk of the competition through injuries. It’s been a similar situation for Ireland with midfielder Robbie Henshaw, who will make his first appearance of the tournament in Saturday’s game with Samoa.
Admittedly, all three of the above players are guaranteed starters in their teams’ top sides and will play crucial roles in the knockout stages of the World Cup.
Regardless, Brunel made the decision to send Ramos back to France, and once a player has been replaced in a World Cup squad they are not able to return for any later matches in the competition.
Ramos has evidently since recovered from his ankle injury and will likely make his first appearance in this season’s Top 14 over the weekend.
“We have the administrative authorisation to play Thomas Ramos against Castres,” Stade Toulousian club president Didier Lacroix has said in advance of Toulous’s upcoming fixture.
“We will make a decision at the last minute with the medical staff who have been in touch with Les Bleus to discuss the matter.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 11, 2019
Toulouse’s match with Castres will take place fewer than 12 hours after France were scheduled to play England – 10 days after Ramos suffered the initial injury.
Toulouse, France’s historically most successful club and the 2017-18 Top 14 champions, are currently sitting on 13th on this year’s ladder – one spot away from automatic relegation.
Eight players from France’s initial 31-man squad are signed with Stade Toulousain for the current season.
France’s final pool game with England may have been called off, but it wasn’t the first of Les Bleus’ matches which was threatened by adverse weather conditions:
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