Upper house

Kiwi Botica propels Castres to third place with Stade Français victory

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Paris (AFP) – New Zealander Ben Botica scored 12 points to send Castres to third place in the French Top 14 in Saturday’s 15-9 home win over Stade Français.

Botica’s efforts took the five-time champions’ home winning record to 16 games, a streak dating back to December 2020.

Former New Zealand center Ngani Laumape started for the Parisians but couldn’t inspire a late comeback in the pouring rain.

“It was difficult, we faced a very good team from Stade Français in difficult weather conditions,” Castres captain Gaetan Barlot told Canal +.

“The starting points made the difference. We are winning tough games, we have to keep this cycle positive,” he added.

After five games in the last two weekends were postponed due to Covid-19 cases, two games from this weekend were suspended for the same reason.

South African Cheslin Kolbe will have to wait for his Toulon Top 14 debut as they were to host La Rochelle while the Toulouse champions were to host Montpellier on Sunday.

The next five matches were the last games to be played before players could be barred from playing after January 15 if the upper house of the French parliament passes a bill requiring full vaccination to enjoy the basics of life. , like entering sports stadiums.

According to the second division president of Bayonne, Philippe Tayeb, around twenty members of the team from the first two French divisions could not play.

The Pierre-Fabre stadium had only 5,000 spectators present, out of its 12,500 seats, with new regulations in force in France on spectators at outdoor and indoor events.

The hosts led 6-3 at the break after a rocky affair in difficult conditions as full-back Julien Dumora added to Botica’s early penalty.

Joris Segonds kicked the Parisians at the only points of half-time.

Botica, 32, the son of former New Zealand international Fran Botica, netted three more penalties to bring the score to 15-6 a quarter of an hour after the break.

Stade Français had two scrimmages in the final two minutes as hosts half-back Rory Kockott received a late yellow card, but the 14 winners were unable to secure the victory and end the impressive run of the local team on their own land.

Tuisova irrelevant

Later, the leaders of the Bordeaux-Bègles league edged Brive in difficulty 22-19 despite being 11 points behind at the break.

Some of the 5,000 spectators present for Castres’ victory over the Stade Français Fred SCHEIBER AFP

Fijian Olympic champion Josua Tuisova opened his account for the season thanks to the first assist from former All Blacks opening half Lima Sopoaga as Lyon passed Pau 35-10.

In a repeat of last season’s second tier promotion final, Perpignan moved up to 11th place with a 25-23 win at Biarritz thanks to a penalty from French full-back Melvyn Jaminet.

The Catalans’ success in the Basque Country leaves the triple European champions Kolbe just outside the relegation zone on their record face to face with Brive, 13th.

During the last match of the day and the weekend, Clermont went to Racing 92 without his Japanese full-back Kotaro Matsushima, in front of 2000 supporters and the Parisians’ field was a covered room.

Next weekend, the top 14 clubs are expected to take part in European competitions after tournament organizers said on Friday the matches would go ahead despite strict travel rules in place between France and Great Britain.