A time for reflection
The Autumn Internationals are once again just around the corner, and this weekend saw the last games of the TOP 14 until the end of November, the opposition this Sunday was Racing 92, Canal plus’s prime time match ko. 16.50.
Both teams had their Internationals in Paris preparing for the France v South Africa match next Saturday, Racing had 5 and Montpellier 3, but the home team still have their infirmary fairly full, so there was not a great amount of choice left for coach Vern Cotter, one good selection available was Jacques Du Plessis who has been out for the last 8/9 months so it was great seeing him back in an unusual position of No.8, a post he had not played too often. The match started badly for Montpellier, Racing scoring 2 tries in the first 12 mins. one from the ever dangerous Imhoff and the second from ex Montpellerian Teddy Iribaren, only one was converted by Finn Russell but that gave Racing a 12-0 lead, Racing is a quality team and to get back on level terms after such a bad start would be very difficult for the home team
Montpellier did get a good try back from the young dynamic Yvan Reilhac, Pienaar missed the conversion, this was going to be a very tough Sunday afternoon 5-12. Just before half time Montpellier had their second try a superb piece of rugby with the ball going through the hands of the backs and Nico Van Rensberg popping up at outside centre to run in the last 20mts or so and finish off a great try, again the conversion was missed by Ruan Pienaar who was not having a great day with his boot. Finally the teams left the park for half time with the score at 10-12 and Montpellier were back in the game after such a terrible start. The second half got under way and Finn Russell added a 3pts penalty, 10-15, and minutes later that man on the wing Juan Imhoff intercepted a Montpellier attack and left everybody standing to scamper over from 50mts, Russell added the extras and Racing had a commanding lead 10-22, Montpellier were on the Racing try line several times but could not turn the pressure into points and either silly penalties or just pure elementary mistakes gave Racing the chance they needed to clear their lines. When you get to this level you cannot batter the opposition try line and come away with nothing, it hits the confidence and although Montpellier were trying their level best to get back into the game it was obvious to all that this game was slipping away from them at speed and even the defensive bonus point looked grim.
Aaron Cruden added a penalty for Montpellier 13-22 but it was crumbs in comparison with the amount of possession they had, in the dying minutes Antoine Gibert hammered the last nail into the coffin with Racing’s 4th try Russell missed the conversion but the final score of Montpellier 13 Racing 27, told its own story, finally the ref blew for full time and the only great pleasure of the day was a lap of honour for Ju Ju Tomas who had just played his last game for Montpellier as their medical joker for the injured Benoit Paillaugue, but then again you never know in this pro rugby whether it’s the last or not. Bar the Montpellier Internationals, the boys are on holiday for the next 10days, this maybe a good time away from the club to have a moment or three of reflection, players need to look themselves in the mirror now and again and be honest whether they are giving their 100%, this is the 3rd loss in a row 2 in the TOP 14 and one in the Champions Cup v Newcastle. What we need is a bit more bloods and guts from all, more commitment and pride to be able to wear that Rugby shirt.
When you see some of the clubs youngsters who often get little game time putting their heart and soul into everything they do, some of the more experienced played should maybe take a leaf out of their book. Montpellier are lying in 9th position after the Racing game, they are a TOP 6 and better team, but the players themselves have to be conscious of their performances, yes there are still several injuries but you can not count on the same players week in week out to perform, the whole squad must be equal to the situation in hand. So holidays it is until the next game away to Agen on the weekend of 24/25 November, but at the same time a little positive thinking on how to address this very delicate situation which the team are going through, there is still time and plenty of games to do it but it needs total commitment from all to achieve.