SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend’s French Top 14 matches involving South African players.
– Under new coach Heyneke Meyer, Stade Français signalled their intent by thrashing newly promoted Perpignan 46-15 despite being reduced to 14 men in the first half. The Parisian club’s halfback pair of Piet van Zyl and Morné Steyn excelled, with Van Zyl scoring their sixth try and Steyn kicking five conversions and a penalty for a personal haul of 13 points. Loosehead prop Heinke van der Merwe also started for Meyer’s team, while lock Berend Botha started for Perpignan.
– Former Sharks pair Jandré Marais and Lourens Adriaanse were on opposite sides in Bordeaux’s 41-19 victory over Pau. Marais came off the bench for Bordeaux, while Adriaanse took up his regular starting position at tighthead prop for Pau.
– New signing JC Janse van Rensburg helped Grenoble give a good account of themselves in their reintroduction to the Top 14 as they went down 28-21 to La Rochelle. Janse van Rensburg started at loosehead prop for his team, who also had Francois Uys at flank, while wing Raymond Rhule made his starting debut for Grenoble.
– Etienne Oosthuizen scored a first-half try for Lyon as they drew 16-16 with Toulouse. Oosthuizen formed a South African second-row combo with Francois van der Merwe, who was replaced by Hendrik Roodt early in the second half. Toulouse included former Stormers wing Cheslin Kolbe and flank Rynhardt Elstadt in their starting lineup.
– Former Bulls and Sharks flank Jacques Potgieter made his Toulon debut off the bench as they lost 25-9 to Racing 92. Marcel van der Merwe started at tighthead prop for Toulon, who had another former Bull in Juandré Kruger on the bench. France international Antonie Claassen started at No 8 for Racing.
– Fullback Scott Spedding’s brace pushed Castres to a 25-20 win over Montpellier, in a repeat of last season’s final. In his first start for Montpellier, Johan Goosen kicked two conversions and two penalties, while lock Paul Willemse scored a try to make it a nervous finish. Centre Robert Ebersohn and tighthead prop Daniel Kotze were on the winning side, while Springboks Frans Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Jannie and Bismark du Plessis were unable to inspire the Wiaan Liebenberg-led Montpellier to victory. Henry Immelman came off the bench in the second half for Montpellier.
– Marcell Coetzee made his long-awaited return from injury in Ulster’s warm-up match against Wasps on Friday. The flank suffered a knee injury in the first game of Ulster’s 2017-18 campaign and was ruled out for the rest of the season. In his first game back, Coetzee played for 30 minutes before being yellow-carded, but he returned at the start of the second half and played through until the end. Juan de Jongh and Nizaam Carr started for Wasps, with the latter scoring one of his team’s five tries.
By Dylan Jack & Mariette Adams
Photo: Omain Lafabregue/AFP/Getty Images