Castres hit Toulouse for six in clash of day

The Rugby Paper - - British Rugby - DAVID BARNES

“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.

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Bad-tem­pered: Christophe Urios is fac­ing dis­ci­plinary ac­tion

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