Irish Examiner: Top 14 Drilldown: Coughlan singing in the rain, Rog not pulling punches

Seven matches, a whole lot of rain, a new league leader, changes at the foot of the table and a match described as “English”. That was the ninth Top 14 weekend of the 2021/22 season. And I wrote about it – as I have for most of this season – for the Irish Examiner.

A week to go to France’s first November Test, against Argentina at Stade de France, and most of the talk is about the possibility of a Jalibert-Ntamack 10-12 partnership – and, if it happens, whether it will become a regular sight on Fabien Galthie’s teamsheets leading up to the World Cup.

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The Rugby Paper: Azema in for Collazo at Toulon – at a price!

My latest for The Rugby Paper, focusing on a stormy week at Toulon that ended with a match played in a literal storm…

Two stories have gripped French rugby this week – the changing of the coach at Toulon, and the possibility of a Jalibert-Ntamack partnership at 10 and 12 for France when the November internationals kick off next week.

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Irish Examiner: Top 14: La Rochelle continue good form as Ronan O’Gara’s side win third on the trot

Bit of a surprise one, this. From request to filing was less than 40 minutes, as the Exa asked for a 400-word bit for the paper on top of the usual weekly online wrap.

After a poor start to the season, Ronan O’Gara’s side are now in the top six for the first time this term after beating Toulon 39-6.

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Irish Examiner: Top 14 Drilldown: French stars impress. La Rochelle survive boos and kicking woes

Thoroughly enjoying putting together this online wrap piece for the Irish Examiner. This is my review of the seventh weekend of the 2021/22 Top 14 season in France.

France coach Fabien Galthie was due to announce his first November international squad on Monday afternoon. 

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The Rugby Paper: A lot rests on Kolbe’s shoulders – and knee

A column for The Rugby Paper, on the excitement surrounding the injured Cheslin Kolbe’s arrival in Toulon. Not that we know when he’ll actually play, yet…

Toulon have welcomed a few global superstars down the years – but it’s difficult to imagine any of them have generated the level of excitement an injured Cheslin Kolbe has this week.

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Irish Examiner: Top 14 Drilldown: Sun comes out for Ronan O’Gara, Toulon no longer box office

My weekly review of the Top 14 weekend that was for the Irish Examiner. This one picks out the talking points from the sixth round of the competition. Just 20 more to go … then the play-offs.

Wouldn’t be surprised, either, if the sports desk at the Exa weren’t aware of the rumours surrounding picture boy Anthony Belleau…

There wasn’t a red card in sight in the Top 14 this week, as – it seems – players get referees’ zero tolerance message on high tackles. Just the 10 yellows across the seven matches and 30 tries…

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The Rugby Paper: Japan cash could force marquee men u-turn

All is not well in the reputedly rich Top 14, with club bosses concerned about financial threats from Japan. My latest column for The Rugby Paper. Plus, the usual rapid fire round-up of the first six games of the weekend.

Fears over the future contracts of France’s internationals have raised the spectre of a marquee player system in the Top 14 and ProD2 for a second time, a year after the LNR rejected the idea as counter-productive to their plans to cut costs by reducing the salary cap.

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