Top 14
Bourgoin's backs to the wall
Ian Moriarty
September 1, 2009

The fall-out from the 'Bloodgate' scandal may have continued to linger in the minds of supporters and administrators in the UK but the French papers have been dominated with headlines of another sort.

While swine flu took its first rugby casualty on Saturday - the Montauban v Castres game became the first professional sporting fixture in Europe to be cancelled as a result of an outbreak of the illness among six Castres players - much of the French press focused on the continuing crisis unfolding at Bourgoin, a club that is fighting for its very survival after takeover talks collapsed last week.

Midi Olympique editor Jacques Verdier paid tribute to the Bourgoin players, who in spite of the maelstrom surrounding the club and without the 12 players whose licences are currently blocked, dug deep to beat Biarritz 22-17 at Pierre-Yves Rajon on Saturday. He said the players should be commended for taking pay cuts of up to 20% but added that the problems in Bourgoin hinted at the growing belief that the small town club was now an endangered species in the Top 14 unless it was artificially propped up through a generous benefactor or TV money.

Friday's low scoring 9-9 draw between Brive and Clermont may have been the game of the weekend but that didn't stop Brive President Patrick Sebastien from echoing the troubles that French club rugby now faced.

Speaking to L'Equipe's Alexandre Bardot, Sebastien revealed that Brive also faced uncertain times ahead now that millionaire owner Daniel Derichebourg had decided to sell his stake in the club. The club's budget was secure this season, he said but he warned that it would be in all probability lowered next season.

"Brive is a small town," said Sebastien, before adding, "we're looking for a saviour but I don't know if there's any around. We may well be obliged to construct a different side, with youngsters and players from Pro D2. But will everyone be happy with that?"


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