WHILE ULSTER WERE the only Irish province to come out of the weekend with a victory, there were several of our players who picked up wins in France.
Jonny Sexton is not the only Irishman plying his trade on foreign shores, so here we catch up with how some of our exiles got on over the weekend. It’s important to support our players abroad, particularly as many of them may return to the provinces at a later stage.
Racing Metro planned on giving Jonny Sexton a rest by starting him on the bench for their home tie against Bordeaux on Saturday. However, the outhalf was called into action after just half an hour when his replacement, Jonathan Wisniewski, pulled up injured. Against a spirited Bordeaux, Sexton’s 62nd-minute try and 69th-minute penalty were vital as Racing won 26-19.
The 28-year-old did miss two conversions but overall his contribution was decisive. Racing move up to fifth in the Top 14 after their fifth win in seven games, but are still flattering to deceive.
Grenoble, with Bernard Jackman and Mike Prendergast on the coaching team, notched up a superb 27-21 win away to Biarritz on Saturday. Former Connacht and Ireland ‘A’ lock Andrew Farley played the entire game for Grenoble, captaining the side. James Hart, a Leinster U20 cap, came on at scrumhalf with just over 10 minutes left in the game. The 22-year-old kicked a conversion but was wide with his one penalty attempt.
That win moves Grenoble and their Irish contingent up to seventh in the Top 14 table.
Jeremy Davidson‘s Aurillac side recorded a superb 34-7 win at home to Bourg-en-Bresse, also securing an attacking bonus point. Former Ulster hooker Nigel Brady started the game at hooker, completing 58 minutes before being subbed off. On the right wing, Conor Gaston, a product of the Ulster academy, played the full 80 minutes but the 23-year-old is still looking for his first try of the season.
Aurillac move up to seventh after this encouraging victory. In today’s Midi Olympique, Davidson has been linked with a move to Clermont next summer, possibly in the role of forwards coach.
Elsewhere, former Munster hooker Denis Fogarty played just over 30 minutes of Agen’s 39-12 win over Bourgoin having recovered from a knee injury sustained last weekend. The Irishman continues to battle with Moroccan international Jalil Narjissi for the number two jersey. Agen have moved up to third in the Pro D2 after what was their third win in four games.
Overall, a very positive weekend for the Irish players based in France. The likes of Damian Browne (Oyonnax), Brian Hayes, Charlie Simpson (both Aurillac) and Mark Flanagan (Mont-de-Marsan) will all hope to be involved for their clubs next weekend.