How to become the Champion Club

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A Glance at Stade Bordelais

Quite simple: you sign on all the test players you can find.

That has been Stade Bordelais’ policy in recent years. A glance at the team they turned out against ASM Romagnat last weekend proves the point:

1. Deshayes, 2. Sochat (captain), 3. Khalfaoui, 4. Senft, 5. Besson, 6. Peyras, 7. Annery, 8. Forteza, 9. Pelletier, 10. Arbez, 11. Lavabre, 12. Amédée, 13. Konde, 14. Lachance, 15. Bourgeois.

Bench: 16. Zdzioblo, 17. Vander Elst, 18. Kouyaté, 19. Kuresa, 20. Bamy, 21. Delas, 22. Hellrigel, 23. Morelle

Here we can spot the following eight (past and present) French internationals in the starting line- up: Annaëlle Deshayes, Agathe Sochat, Julie Annery, Monserrat Amédée, Assia Khalfaoui, Carla Arbez, Nassira Konde and Morgane Bourgeois. Add to them five leading Canadians, Gabrielle Senft, Justine Pelletier, Sarah-Maude Lachance and Fabiola Forteza, and you have every chance of walking off with titles.

Their success is due to the generous joint-presidency of Benoit Khouane and Simon Doursat.

Curiously, in its current form the club exists only for women. The original (men’s) Stade Bordelais club merged with Bordeaux-Bègles in 2006.

The match at the Stade Marcel-Michelin in Clermont – ASM Romagnat have a link with the men’s club there – was notable for attracting the largest crowd yet seen at an Elite 1 game, 6,025. The only drawback being that it formed one half of a double-header. Over 13,000 watched the men’s game.

Despite all that player strength Stade Bordelais had to work hard to gain their away victory 27-31.

The one big name for Romagnat, Jessy Trémoulière, may have retired from international rugby, but she remains central to the local cause. She potted five kicks out of five, to test the reigning champions to the utmost.

The Elite 1 championship divides into two pools. Both Stade Bordelais and Romagnat sit in Pool 1.

There SB remain unbeaten with 7/7, but ASM are treading on their heels, this defeat being their first.
In Pool 2 the two clubs based in Toulouse, Stade Toulousain and Blagnac, hold similar sway. Like Stade Bordelais, ST are unbeaten; Blagnac have lost 2/7.

Wider Consequences

Looking at the broader picture, it remains to be seen whether France can derive benefit from this concentration of power within a small handful of clubs. Inevitably all the other ambitious clubs have been weakened as Stade Bordelais have increased their strength.

Add to that, the Federation’s support of the Sevens squad has further reduced the competition available to the national selectors. France 7 have just failed to win the Vancouver Sevens, losing decisively to New Zealand. NZR are faced with the same problem of choice: can we sustain the two codes side by side and hope to win both major trophies, Olympic gold and the World Cup trophy?

England too has a small number of clubs hugging a large number of test players, but its great advantage is that the RFU scrubbed the Sevens project, when it suddenly removed contracts.

That caused a widespread outcry, but, in its defence, GB 7s had become the greater concern. Their progress to the Olympics is far more troubled, but the Red Roses’ future looks far brighter.