By Masked Oval
Of all the annoying things that come with the professionalization of rugby in recent years, there is this trend that Canal + has to see derby and “Clasico” everywhere. You will tell me, when South African franchises have joined the Top 14it is certain that even a Stade Français – Perpignan will look like a derby.
But if there is a poster which is on the way to becoming a classic of our beautiful championship, it is undoubtedly the one which opposes the Toulouse Stadium to Rochelais Stadium. A “turboboularico” between the two teams that have dominated French and European rugby for two years, which always offer us particularly committed and fierce matches. We are never disappointed by a Toulouse – La Rochelle. Good, except when you support La Rochelle.
It’s been said and repeated, the Maritimes seem to have a little inferiority complex against the Rouge et Noir, which they haven’t beaten since 2018. A time when you had never heard the word “COVID” and where the Yellow and Black played with a Balès-Sinzelle hinge, that tells you how far away it is. But since then everything has changed. The Rochelais have won a title and can now also show off by sticking a big star on their shirt. Will that be enough to finally bring down their… come on me too, I put “pet peeve” in a piece of paper like that maybe I will finally be considered a real sports journalist.
Lineups by TuesdayRugby
The movie of the game
When we prepare a trip to the Basque Country, we always live in anguish, we ask ourselves “will the weather be good? “. When preparing for a final phase match in La Rochelle, another question haunts us: “Will Yamaha West have a good day? “After his faultless against the posts in the Champions Cup final, one could fear that the wheel of fortune would fall back on the “mental crack” box. And unfortunately this is true from the start of the match. After taking over the first scrum, the Yellow and Black recover a penalty against the posts. Unfortunately for them, the Maoroux misses the target. In the process, he finds a direct touch.
A delicate start to the match, therefore. But on the Toulouse side, we also make mistakes. In particular Antoine Dupont, heckled on his ball outings and pushed forward. Like a few weeks ago against Leinster, where he was muzzled by an aggressive Irish defense. And if the opposing teams had finally found the parade to counter the best player in the world? And if finally, Dupont was not a little overrated?
In general, as soon as we start to ask ourselves this question, he answers by giving us a big finger and crossing the field. New illustration here: after a superb pass from Peato Mauvaka, the n°9 tears the La Rochelle defense, taps to follow for himself and manages to recover the ball with a little success, since even the rebounds have posters of Antoine Dupont in their room. If it is stopped just in front of the line, the ball comes out quickly, and it is Pierre Fouyssac which will conclude with a good old family pick and go. 7-0.
In a few seconds, the Rochelais understood that Antoine Dupont was as inevitable as global warming, and in addition they took a try from Pierre Fouyssac, the only player of the Rouge et Noir who does not eat for free at the restaurant in Toulouse because we never recognize it. And this nightmarish start to the match will continue, since the European champions will become the first team in the history of rugby to be holed up by Rory Arnold. The Australian second line pierces like Brian O’Driscoll, then passes like David Marty.
It’s not very graceful, but it’s not forward and, of course, Fucking Antoine Dupont is in support. The line is still far away and defenders are still there. Fuck it. Dupont maneuvers Anaconda West like a rebel would maneuver a Socialist by promising him a constituency. A shot to the right, a shot to the left, and it ends in the in-goal. Necessarily.
12-0. Then soon 15-0 after a silly foul from Skelton which allows Ramos to widen the gap. The Francofoufous play backwards, like Sinzelle trying to send off under the posts by hand, the kind of stupid thing that never works, except when it’s Thomas Ramos who does it.
It makes you wonder if the Rochelais are not yet hungover after their European title. And we know that the first hangover is always the worst.
But as the minutes go by, sand yachting fans begin to sober up, and come back to what is still the basis of their game: breaking mouths. After a Toulouse foul, they go on a penalty kick and pound the in-goal line. Without having to force too much, Liebenberg finds the fault, 15-7. But the Toulousains give the impression of being able to accelerate as soon as they feel like it, and two new offensives end with two penalties from Ramos, which allows his team to return to the locker room with a comfortable advantage, 21-7. We clearly feel more freshness on the Red and Black side, to believe that skipping the Champions Cup final will have been the right strategic choice.
The second period begins on a slower pace, with a lot of clumsiness on each side. But after a good quarter of an hour of puking rugby, it is the Rochelais who will rebel. Once again, simplicity pays off: penaltouch, ball carried within 22m. It is not conclusive, the referee orders a scrum. This time, Alldritt goes flush and, facing the international No. 8, the Toulouse defense is as solid and coherent as the Republican barrage of La République en Marche. 21-14the game is restarted.
But is it really? Tonight, we feel the Toulouse full of control, almost untouchable. The proof: Fouyssac was used for something, and Elstadt released its first good match for two years. All the more welcome that with François Cros out on injury, we must recover the role of the guy who never smiles and sticks 25 tackles in 80 minutes.
Once again, the men of Ugo Mola reinvest the camp of the European champions. Ramos activates endgame mode and remembers that he is unplayable in knockout matches. Juan-Cruz Mallia, he remembers that he loves to break the hearts of Rochelais. Pass at the foot of the first, the second resists several defenders to score: 26-14.
We feel that it is dead for the Rochelais, an impression which will be confirmed a few seconds later when the Rouge et Noir trigger another of their special moves: the stealthy Ntamack. Until then, no one was aware that he was playing this game. And yet, after an excellent work of three-quarter center of Selevasio Tolofua, the Grandisse Méchu is in support to go and give the last cannon shot which will sink the La Rochelle ship, 33-14.
We find the Big Bad Stade Toulousain who seems to be able to score any try without effort, where the others break their ass for long minutes to succeed in scratching three points.
The Rouge et Noir themselves must say to themselves “damn, we’re still good” since their turboboulard starts to swell again at the end of the match, where the Rochelais will find a way to score two anecdotal tries to finish at 33-28, a score a little more worthy of a European champion.
The great La Rochelle adventure is therefore coming to an end, and the rugby season is giving way to the Fort Boyard season. Farewell to Pierre Bourgarit’s biceps, hello to Olivier Minne’s big pecs. The Toulousains, they still have the opportunity to do the hat-trick and break the balls of the rest of France for one more year. For that, it would first be necessary to dismiss the Castres Olympique, the famous “little thumb” from Aveyron, whom Ugo Mola will present to us as the equal of the Crusaders for a week.
We feel a great potential for a poet match, can’t wait for next week!
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