Five reasons to follow the ProD2

Five reasons to follow the ProD2

Biarritz fights against the headwind

In permanent conflict with the Biarritz city council and relegated to ProD2 last season, the soundtrack did not take much advantage of its stay in the elite to build the future. The players’ licences, blocked by the FFR until last Tuesday, have finally been made available to the association. Concerned, the Basques of President Jean-Baptiste Aldigé will attack their first match -against Oyonnax- on an abandoned lawn all summer, due to lack of municipal personnel to maintain it: that is, through this single example, the deleterious climate that heralds what could soon become a crossroads, after the departure of some key players such as Peyresblanques, Hirigoyen, Erbani, Hart and Stark.

The president of the BO, Jean-Baptiste Aldigé, in Aguilera, a subject of contention between the city council and the club. (M. Blondeau/The team)

growing budgets

The ProD2 is much more than the prelude to the Top 14: it constitutes a universe in its own right, with a habitus – a way of being – of its own. In the game, but also when it comes to budgets. ProD2 clubs have significantly increased their budgets to the point that four of them (Aix-en-Provence, Agen, Grenoble and Oyonnax) have surpassed the ten million mark. Does this mean that they are favorites to reach the Top 14? Not really. In any case, not as far as Grenoble is concerned, sportingly a bit short. Bearing in mind that money doesn’t buy happiness, Mont-de-Marsan, on the verge of the elite last season, remains the number one contender, on equal footing with Oyonnax.

The Aixois go on the attack in the hope of taking one of the six qualifying places for the final phase.  (F. Faugère/The Team)

The Aixois go on the attack in the hope of taking one of the six qualifying places for the final phase. (F. Faugère/The Team)

many suitors

The Montois had a painful experience in the play-off against Perpignan last season. They also lost their goalscorer and scrum-half, Léo Coly. For his part and after two difficult editions, Agen seems to have finally found the right fuel at the hands of his coach, Bernard Goutta. Outsiders last season, Carcassonne, Colomiers and Aix-en-Provence are still in contention for the final phase. With signed signings (Yameogo, Galala, Giorgadze, Abzhandadze, Guillemin and Rokoduguni have already stood out in the elite), Montauban could be the surprise of this season, as evidenced by his success against Sapiac (33-14), last Friday , against Castres in a warm-up match.

Montauban center three-quarter Maxime Mathy, whose contract has been extended this season.  (N. Luttiau/The team)

Montauban center three-quarter Maxime Mathy, whose contract has been extended this season. (N. Luttiau/The team)

No maintenance purchased

While a serious contender to return to the Top 14, Grenoble fell very low last season. Aurillac flirts dangerously with the bottom of the rankings. As for Béziers, whose new sporting efficiency is not yet known, his main concern, at the moment, is to get the takeover of the club by a millionaire based in a Cathar country. These three clubs have as many questions that could be answered by the end of the first five-day block. But woe to those who lose their balance: he will then accompany Massy and Soyaux-Angoulême, promoted and therefore promised to fight not to immediately return to the National.

Recruited by Oyonnax, Steve Mafi (ball in hand, wearing the Castres shirt), will bring extra power to the peloton.  (F. Lancelot/The Team)

Recruited by Oyonnax, Steve Mafi (ball in hand, wearing the Castres shirt), will bring extra power to the peloton. (F. Lancelot/The Team)

stars from other places

Some big names will step up the competition. On the recruiting side, Oyonnax has Steve Mafi (back row, London Irish) as Biarritz goes for centers Joe Tomane (Tokyo) and Tyler Morgan (Scarlets). Montauban signed Nicolas Solveyra (support, Houston) and Semesa Rokoduguni (center, Bath). For its part, Mont-de-Marsan has hired Misaele Petero (centre, Tel Aviv). Joe Maksymiw (back row, Scarlets) and Richard Barrington (props, Saracens) have joined Agen, while Andrew Ready (prostitute, Western Force) and Marco Fepulea’i (props, Los Angeles) are at Colomiers. Teimana Harrison (third row, Northampton), Sam Nixon (support, Bristol), Juan-Bautista Pedemonte (third row, Jaguares) and Rob Harley (second row, Glasgow) reinforce the Aix-en squad, respectively -Provence, Grenoble, Vannes and Carcassonne.

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