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Watch: The bonkers two-balls-on-pitch Top 14 finish at Biarritz

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Gaizka Iroz/AFP via Getty Images)

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The Top 14 has a habit of throwing up some of the most bizarre sights you will ever see anywhere in rugby and what unfolded with the clock in the red late on Sunday night at Biarritz was the latest incredibly bonkers bit of theatre to happen there. La Rochelle were leading 24-20 with the match awaiting its final play, a lineout five metres out from the try line for the relegation-threatened hosts. 


What happened next was priceless. While a Biarritz forward jumped to gather possession and set up a maul after the ball was thrown in by the hooker, a second ball was thrown lineout-style from the darkness of an outside-the-pitch area a few metres behind where the hooker threw in.  

Biarritz’ Francois da Ros broke off the maul to touch down in the corner and celebrate what he thought was the match-winning Top 14 score but at the same time that this happened, ex-All Blacks scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow had gotten his hands on the rogue second ball that had been thrown in and he kicked it dead behind the goals and started celebrating what he thought was the win for La Rochelle.   

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Even the official Top 14 Twitter account struggled to make sense of what had just happened in Biarritz, tweeting: “Mind-blowing scenario in Aguilera.”

In the end, the referee decided that the lineout should be retaken and when the full-time whistle blew it was Biarritz who were celebrating for real as they scored a converted try from the restarted play to win the match 27-24.  

It was the latest setback for La Rochelle in an inconsistent season where they are struggling to close out tight matches. “At really critical moments in matches, we just let our concentration slip for one second and then we make uncharacteristic errors,” reckoned Kerr-Barlow in an in-depth interview published last weekend on RugbyPass


“It’s not a system thing or it’s nothing to do with effort. It’s one thing that is fixable and when you look at it in that context, it is quite positive because you cut that out, you have good concentration in important moments and you are away laughing. We have still got a fantastic team of blokes who are very motivated to succeed. It is fixable and that is a positive. When we fix it we will be in a much stronger position.”

The loss was the ninth defeat in 16 league matches for seventh-place La Rochelle in a campaign that has caused frustration compared to last year’s success where the ‘KBA – Keep Ball Alive’ philosophy impressively qualified them for domestic and European finals.



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