Double defending champion and even European champion last season, Stade Toulouse is once again a big favorite for the 2021-22 season’s Top 14, even without World Champion Cheslyn Colby’s winger, who went on to strengthen Toulouse in the fierce battle for the top six, the Reds and Blacks could aim to pass three .
To look the Gaul of Toulouse in the eye, you have to be strong. “All the top six teams have been reinforced. When we see that, last year, teams like Lyon, Toulon, Montpellier, Armada and Castres could not… It will be an exciting tournament,” said Gonzalo Quesada, director of the French stadium.
But it is not necessarily towards Paris that you have to look for the most solid strangers. Because La Rochelle, who was defeated by Toulouse in the European Cup final and then in 14th place, seems the main opponent of red and black. “We’ll see pretty quickly if we learn the lessons from what we’ve been through,” said Brice Doolin, the Maritimes international quarterback.
With the greatest of luck, the big names meet right from the start, on the first day, Sunday (9:05 p.m.). “We have to get off to a good start. On paper, maybe ten teams, or even twelve teams, can qualify. We will have to make a very good start because all the points we can lose, we have to break them at the end of the season and that’s where we lose our energy.” , followed Doolin, who hopes to win the title at the end of the season.
O’Gara on top of Stade Rochelais
This year, Rochelais left former Irish international opening player Ronan O’Gara alone at the helm. The club game in the caravel must not know a “big revolution” and continue to rely on a unified collective.
A strong argument, sure, but it does not guarantee better results than last season for Rochelle. At Toulouse, Colby’s departure to RCT just days before the start of the season feels like a stone in the shoes of Haut-Garonnais. But with players of the caliber of Roman Ntamak, Antoine Dupont, Thomas Ramos, Julian Marchand and Peta Ahkee, Ugo Mola’s men seem armed to play the leading roles.
He is also expected to join last season’s semi-finalists, UBB and Racing 92 in the fight for the throne. “We want to be champions in all the competitions in which we scored: the Top 14, the European Cup, the Super Sevens… In the race, that should be the goal,” confirmed Ile-de-France captain Henri. Chavanse.
To the “galaxies” (Fin Russell, Ferimi Vakatawa, Courtley Bell, Teddy Thomas, Gael Fico …), the Hauts-de-Seine club added the second or third international steel line Baptiste Pesenti and strengthened its crew with Didier Casadey (forward), only To bring in a bit of the “rustic character” that President Jacqui Lorenzetti demanded.
Three clubs participate in the race for the province
For Girondins, who reached the top 14 semi-finals and the European Cup last season, and who are untouchable in 2020 by the time the competition ends, a logical continuation seems to lead them to the tournament final. With the demanding Kristof Urios well fixed on the bench, UBB knows the way.
A little further away, Claremont and Toulon could play a spoiler. In particular, RCT, whose goal is clear: Top 14 matches in the semi-finals and victory in the European Challenge, claimed President Bernard Lemitri, who put his hand in the purse this summer to bring in Lopeti Timani, Leone Nakarawa, Jiuta Wainiqolo but especially South Africa’s tuft of Chaislin Colby. .
For their part, Auvernats has turned the page on Frank Azima, at the club since 2010, turning to Juno Gibbs, the New Zealander who is the basis of La Rochelle’s success. “We have a niche that we have to find and assume,” said Claremont player Damien Benaud, who wants to reconnect with his (recent) glorious past.
A little further south, Montpellier intends to maintain its good momentum from last season and join the fight for Top 6. Just like Castries or the French Stade which, if Gael Fico loses, looks like Jonathan Dante can. Rely on a more complete workforce. Finally, Lyon will want to grab a bite after a disappointing season finish in ninth place.
Usap of the nugget Melvyn Jaminet, led by former U20 teacher Sébastien Piqueronies, feisty Biarritz or Brive, is still far from Toulouse and no doubt must fight to not join Pro D2 at the end of the season.
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