RUGBY WRAP UP: Toulouse Flood destroys Oyonnax defences in the end

Here’s my latest post for the American-based rugby website Rugby Wrap Up. You can see it in all its glory here. CASTRES, FRANCE – Toulouse new boy Toby Flood enjoyed a memorable Top 14 debut. He scored all his side’s points as they scraped past a dogged Oyonnax at Stade Ernest Wallon. But it’s Brive, […]

RUGBY WRAP UP: French Rugby’s Top 14 Season Starts Here

Here’s my preview of the opening weekend of the Top 14 season for Rugby Wrap Up.  CASTRES, FRANCE – LESS than three months – 76 days, if you want to be accurate about it – after Toulon lift the Top 14’s Bouclier de Brennus, they will kick off the new season atBayonne. Almost under the […]

TOP 14 Matchday Three Preview: My Rugby Wrap Up debut

I’m now blogging on the Top 14 American rugby blog Rugby Wrap Up – here’s my published first article… I’m quietly proud of it Southwest France – Last weekend’s Top 14 results made a mockery of many a pundits’ opinion – especially Oyonnax’s stuffing RWU’s favorites for the Brennus, Clermont; Biarritz beating Montpellier and Stade Francais showed fortitude in taking out Perpignan. They say there is a thin […]

TOP 14 MATCHDAY TWO REVIEW: The pundits get an early season wake-up call

It was, for bookies and fans of certain sides in the Top 14, the best of weeks. It was, for many a Top 14 pundit, the worst of weeks, as the results made a mockery of what they believed should have been a series of relatively straightforward forecasts. Still, at least it will keep us […]

Kick-a-dee-doo-da… Brive make Bordeaux pay in penalty battle

Toulon v Racing Metro – or, as it was known in whispered conversations in rugby clubs up and down France, Wilkinson v Sexton – was widely touted as the battle of the kickers in the Top 14 this week – but an exhibition of straightforward, effective, clinical rugby by the expensively assembled Toulonnaise made a […]

TOP 14 MATCHDAY TWO PREVIEW: Jonny v Jonny – Wilko set to take all in battle of the number 10s

One down. Twenty-five to go… Not afraid to make a fool of himself after last weekend’s opening matches in the Top 14, James Harrington rushes in to play pundit ahead of the second set of games Toulon v Racing Metro Any look ahead at this early season meeting of two of the Top 14’s biggest-spending, deepest-pocketed […]

TOP 14 MATCHDAY ONE REVIEW: Scrum rules not okay?

Rugby union’s new scrummaging laws had their first serious workout this weekend as the Top 14 season kicked off in France. For years, it has been widely accepted that the scrum is a mess. That lengthy instruction: ‘Crouch. Touch. Hold. Engage,’ was almost inevitably followed by a raised arm and the shrill sound of a […]

Lopez the hero as USAP break Castres’ hearts

It took just one attack and less than three minutes for Marcel Garvey to give Castres the perfect start to the defence of their title, barrelling over the try line despite the attention of two Perpignan defenders. Rory Kockott duly converted the simple conversion. Unfortunately for CO, the rest of the match did not go […]

Magic Wilkinson conjures up great escape for Toulon against Montpellier

European champions Toulon kicked off their bid to end a 22-year wait for the Top 14 title with a barely deserved draw at Montpellier on Friday (August 16). Stade Yves du Manoir was, predictably, packed to the rafters for the opening game of the season and, after a brief delay while the small mystery of […]