Wednesday, February 25, 2009
There was plenty of focus on the much anticipated Tana Umaga return on Friday night, but it was overshadowed slightly by a 22-13 win for Stade Francais over Umagas Toulon.
Toulon scored two tries to Stades solo effort, but it was Lionel Beauxis who kept them in front.
When the Parisians did score, it was a great try that involved a former Rugby League star and a young, up-and-coming Frenchman.
Mark Gasnier, who is looking more and more comfortable in Union every time he plays, made this great break with a fantastic step that left Sonny Bill Williams and Tana Umaga in his dust.
It was the tank-like twenty year old Mathieu Bastareaud, the cousin of Arsenal footballer William Gallas, who then collected the return pass and powered over the line.
Bastareaud was a standout player in the IRB Junior World Championship, and has since been impressive with Stade Francais, earning him a crack at Wales this weekend in the Six Nations.
French coach Mark Lievremont is giving him a chance to prove himself after his recent good form.
"We had to choose between Mathieu Bastareaud and Damien Traille, but Traille is ill and only played an hour while Florian Fritz is still suspended," Lievremont said.
"Mathieu has the profile to come into this team and bring his determination and power. He has played well for Stade Francais".
France play Wales this Friday night, causing somewhat of a stir with the traditionalists. It promises to be a cracking game though in which young powerhouse Bastareaud will be giving his all.