ickledot's on holiday at the moment, staying in central France where the climate appears to have forgotten that summer's over. After missing one weekend of rugby though, I was desperate to be beside a touchline when this one came around. The question was: where?
The internet wasn't giving many clues but the local newspaper, the Charente Libre, revealed that professional club games, the top couple of tiers, are played on a Friday evening while all local club fixtures take place on Sunday afternoon. A number of choices were on offer in the area but I eventually opted for a half hour trip to La Rochfoucauld. If I read correctly, the club there plays in Section B of the Poitou Charente League.
It has to be said, it wasn't a great game. The points tally was low, errors were many and the play stuttered rather than flowed. However, in the players' defence, it was baking hot (35 degrees according to my car's thermometer) and this was the first game of the season after all. For those reasons I think it would be unfair to make any comparisons with the standard of rugby in our leagues at home.
The eventual course of the game wasn't apparent right at the start though as the home side managed to get over the line in virtually the first play of the game. Too soon for me also as I'd not even got settled into position so missed the score. Didn't think it mattered too much at the time as I assumed it would be the first of many.
Not so. Although La Rochfoucauld had good possession, particularly during their best patch in the middle period of the second half, they weren't able to score points. Bressuire were similarly lacking potency in terms of tries but they were kicking well; two successful penalties giving them a 5-6 lead at the break.
Perhaps La Rochfoucauld should have kicked to regain the lead when they chose to tap and run a penalty during their aforementioned strong period. The kick they did opt to take a few minutes later was missed from a much more difficult position. Easily said in retrospect and although it might have put the pressure back on to Bressuire, their hat trick of kicks to make the final score 5-9 might have occurred anyway.
Well done to both sides and thanks to La Rochfoucauld for the welcome. I'm sure things will get better for them as the season progresses. You can see more pictures from the game on Flickr.