TOM SMITH was always a canny player and he’s proving pretty canny as a coach. Judging by recent events at Edinburgh that have seen the departure of the coaching staff, the 41-year-old former Scotland and Lions loosehead timed his exit from the club to perfection, leaving last summer after helping them reach the last four of the Heineken Cup. And while it’s all gone pear-shaped at Edinburgh, Smith is enjoying a “steep learning curve” as forwards coach of Lyon in Pro2.
Posted 70 days ago
Posted 89 days ago
IN THE letters page of the latest issue of Midi Olympique one irate reader has addressed the editor in no uncertain terms on why the Top 14 isn’t helping the national side: ‘Limit the Number of Foreigners’ his rant begins. Oh, the irony! For this Saturday at Twickenham France will be hoping that one of these same etrangers can get in among the English back-row.
Posted 96 days ago
Posted 115 days ago
RESTAURANTS IN France have Michelin Stars, rugby players have Midi Olympique stars. They are awarded in each Monday’s edition of the newspaper to the players who have caught the eye over the weekend. The judging is roughly along the lines of: One star: good performance; two stars: very good performance; three stars: great performance.
Posted 138 days ago
JONNY WILKINSON brought down the curtain on 2012 in fine style, signing off with a 26-point haul as Toulon crushed Perpignan 46-13 and consolidated their position as the Top 14’s dominant side in the first half of the season. Toulon have won 12 of their 14 matches, giving them a seven point lead at the top of the table over Clermont with reigning champions Toulouse lying third a further three points adrift.
Posted 152 days ago
THE CHANCES of a white Christmas in Perpignan would seem about as likely as Wales one day beating Australia. Down in the deep south of France, the winters are mild and usually sunny, which goes to explain why James Hook’s house has been receiving a steady stream of visitors in recent days. His parents have just returned to Wales after a mini-break in Catalan country, and now the Perpignan fly-half has the in-laws staying for Christmas.
Posted 159 days ago
RUGBY IS a subjective old sport. When it comes to talk of who is top of the pile, it’s hard to come to a definitive answer, with pub-know-it-alls basing opinions on one performance, one eye-catching run or one cobbled cliché. It is true that statistics can be used to say whatever you want, torn out of context and pasted into whatever scheme you would like to champion.
Posted 160 days ago
IT’S THE half-way stage of the Heineken Cup and for the French clubs things are looking good. With three of the six pool matches gone, only Biarritz of the seven Top 14 teams look to have no hope of qualifying for the last eight. Their 22-14 defeat away at Connacht last weekend leaves the Basque outfit third in pool 6, nine points behind leaders Harlequins and three adrift of Connacht.
Posted 202 days ago
THE TOP 14 is soon to close down for three weeks allowing clubs to take stock of their early season form. For Racing Metro it’s been nothing short of disastrous. Three consecutive league defeats have left them languishing in eighth spot, 17 points behind leaders Toulon and just six clear of the relegation zone.
Posted 209 days ago
TWO ROUNDS gone and four to go in the group stage of the Heineken Cup, and while some clubs are looking good others (no names, Edinburgh) are still looking for a point – any point. And the French clubs? There’s been the odd French farce but in the case of Toulon and Clermont it’s been nothing but force.