Castres hit Toulouse for six in clash of day
“Urios, at first pointing his finger at Galthie, the former France captain, made some contact with his chin”
Castres team boss Christophe Urios went to Toulouse with the threat of suspension hanging over his head and a club record of not having won there for almost 40 years.
As it turned out, he delivered a stunning knock-out by inspiring his team to win a try-strewn thriller 41-31 and record a fifth success in a row.
But the clash that is intriguing the Top 14 is the one that featured an amazing dust-up with Toulon manager Fabien Galthie the week before.
The bad-tempered incident, which occurred after Castres had beaten Toulon by a single point, was captured on film.
It first showed Urios’ backs coach Frederic Charrier saying “Shut your mouth” to Galthie, who replies: “Do you think I am scared of you?”
After which Urios, at first pointing his finger at Galthie, the former France captain, made some contact with his chin.
Urios later explained: “He insulted us and we stupidly replied. At first through Fredo and, when he continued, I went to see him so he would stop. It was just kids’ stuff.”
Serious enough, though, for league president Paul Goze to ask his disciplinary commission to examine the affair next Wednesday.
Whatever the verdict, there can be no denying the coaching qualities of Urios who took Oyonnax from Division Two to European competition.
And who now threatens, with the help of English coach Joe El Abd, to cause mayhem in the title race.
Castres lost by just one point on their last visit to Toulouse. This time they were unstoppable, hitting Toulouse for six tries, five of them in an astonishing second half.
They conceded three of Toulouse’s four tries during those crazy exchanges that will secure a prominent place in the history of these derbies.
For the record, Castres scored through centre Julien Caminati, fullback Antoine Battle, No.8 Alex Tulou, Aussie centre Afusipa Taumeopeau, South African hooker Jody Jenneker and flanker Alexandre Bias.
And Toulouse responded through Fijian flanker Semi Kunatani, winger Yoann Huget and full-back Thomas Ramos, twice.
The Top 14 has new leaders in La Rochelle. It is a status they know well having finished champions of the regular season last time around.
But they don’t give trophies for that, so you could understand their restraint after beating previous pacesetters Montpellier 26-14.
Centre Pierre Aiguillon smiled: “Being top did not do us much good last year. If Montpellier want it, we will leave it to them and we’ll have the title.”
His team, beaten by Toulon in a play-off semi-final last summer, could well win the title they and their passionate legions of supporters covet this season.
Perhaps not, though, in the style of their win here against a Montpellier team that had just lost without scoring to Racing and whose indiscipline cost them ten penalties in the first half alone.
Plus a yellow card for prop Mohammed Haouas just before the break for a frustrated shoulder barge on scrum-half Alexi Bales.
Former Agen man Bales is out of contract soon and will probably be given a new one after kicking 16 points and creating the Brock James try that deprived Montpellier of a bonus.
Victory was a sweet moment for former All Black Rene Ranger who fell out with Montpellier while in their colours. He left them prematurely to launch an ill-fated bid to rejoin New Zealand for the last World Cup.
His return to the Top 14 with La Rochelle may turn out to be important, though this was an occasion for defences to stand up.
South African centre Paul Jordaan scored an early try for La Rochelle with footballing skills that crowned a move of 80 metres. Opposing hooker Romain Ruffenach went over to glimpse a defensive bonus ten minutes from time. But Aussie James came on late to leave Montpellier with nothing.
Pau had a special day to mark the opening of the ambitious remodelling of their ground. There were political celebrities, drummers, fireworks, anthems and delivery of the ball by helicopter.
But it was what they did with it against Bordeaux-Begles that most delighted their fans.
Despite trailing 11-6 at the break to a try from Kiwi winger Fa’asia Fuatai, they hit back with replies from scrumhalf Thibault Daubagna and full-back Charly Malie. And five penalties shared by Kiwi stars Colin Slade and Tom Taylor kept the party in full swing.
Oyonnax remained anchored to the bottom after relegation rivals Brive beat them 17-13.
It was thought to be a lucky ground for Oyonnax who had been promoted and secured survival there in tight spots during recent seasons. But Brive, already beaten three times at home, were in no mood to make it four.
Georgian prop Karlen Asieshvili made sure of the win after earlier tries by Fijian winger Benedito Masilevu and full-back Mathieu Ugalde. Oyonnax countered through winger Dug Cudjo and scrum-half Jeremy Gondrand, twice.
In the late game, Toulon ran out easy victors over Lyon, 39-11.
Bad-tempered: Christophe Urios is facing disciplinary action