RC valves. Can the Bretons play promotion to the top 14? – RC valves

Pro D2 (Day 6). Vannes – Grenoble, this Friday (7:30 p.m.)


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Despite two losses in the first two trips (to Angoulême and Rouen), RC Vannes is third in Pro D2 going into the second block of games of the season. Two points behind leaders Grenoble, who is present at La Rabine this Friday. The Bretons won their first two home games against two French rugby strongholds (Biarritz and Carcassonne) before claiming their first away win at another ‘big guy’ (Colomiers). The Bretons took the right wagon, knowing that two-thirds of the teams placed in the top six at the end of the first block will remain there at the end of the season.

The mayonnaise starts to thicken

With 16 arrivals and 12 exits, we can easily speak of a new cycle for a team that was close to the finals of joining in 2020 before dipping into the soft underbelly last season (11th). The squad is still struggling to maintain their level of play for 80 minutes. But the mayonnaise is beginning to take hold, thanks in particular to Bayonne’s restored hinge: Maxime Lafage (Pro D2 top scorer after five days) in the opening and medical wildcard Hugo Zabalza in the scrum. The new structure of RC Vannes is taking shape around highly committed and high-performing players such as John Afoa (168′ game) and Pat Léafa (198′) in the front row, Argentines in the third row Francisco Gorrissen (400′ ) and Juan Bautista Pedemonte (275th) or the Uruguayan Nicolas Freitas in the three-quarter center (361st).

Recruitment within the framework of the game project

“We felt we had to bring something new to the way we played last season,” explained technical manager Jean-Noël Spitzer after the convincing win against Carcassonne. With 144 points scored this season (best total of Pro D2), RC Vannes is already very efficient in conquest and attack, proof that the combinations work and the players get to know each other. Three rookies have already scored this season: Nathanaël Hulleu (3 tries), Romaric Camou (1) and Théo Costosseque (1).

How far will the Vannetais go this season? (File Photo Nicolas Creach)


Managers are still missing

Like last season, RC Vannes is not spared injuries. The problem is that they focus on leaders (Nick Abendanon, Jérémie Abiven) and forwards (Cyril Blanchard, Eric Marks, Darren O’Shea, Karl Chateau). Full-back Nick Abendanon only played 15 minutes against Carcassonne before being stunned and eliminated after suffering a head shock. Absent from the start of the season due to muscle pain, he is replaced at the back by players whose job it is not (Quentin Étienne, Gwenaël Duplenne). And the third line Jérémie Abiven was arrested three months after a series of concussions. He won’t play again until January.

An increasingly dense Pro D2

A look at the very tight standings after five days is enough to gauge the distance that still needs to be covered to play the play-offs, which will only affect the top six at the end of the regular season. Seventh (Aurillac) is just two points behind Vannes. And solid candidates jostle in front of goal: Grenoble, Oyonnax (Vannes’ next two opponents), Mont-de-Marsan, Biarritz, Agen. It will also be necessary to take into account the ambitious Rouen, Colomiers and Montauban, even Nevers. “Competition is intense and the schedule for this second block will not yet allow us to rotate the workforce significantly,” warns Spitzer.

The composition of RC Vannes against Grenoble

Berguet, Leafa, Afoa – Iachizzi, Johnson – Gorrissen (cap), Bazin, Edwards – Zabalza (m), Lafage (o) – Freitas, Valleau, Costossèque, Hulleu – Camou. Substitutes (to choose from): Bessonart, Béziat, Boulier, Burgaud, Duplenne, Etienne, Mr Edwards, Holder, Kité, Leroux, Percillier, Tafili. Technical Director: Jean-Noël Spitzer.

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