Sunday evening during the last day of the regular phase of Top 14, USAP, 13th, won UBB (22-15) and the right to play a play-off match in Mont-de-Marsan after the victory of Brive (12th) in Paris.
The benevolent eye from the skies of the international third line Jean Carrère, former USAP player then coach, who died suddenly recently, and to whom the Aimé-Giral stadium paid tribute yesterday, will not have been enough to push and carry his small. Winners of the UBB (score), the USAP players nevertheless did not secure their place in the elite at the end of this regular season 2021-2022 in the Top 14 by finishing 13th. They will try again in six days during a play-off match at Mont-de-Marsan, since Brive, she retained her 12th place by winning in Paris.
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Top 14 – Arlettaz (USAP): “We want to be the first to win an Access Match forever”
The USAP in the game from the lemons…
Everything suggested that the task was possible for USAP in the first half (17-12). More coordinated in her three-quarter lines with Tedder, Taumoepeau, Duguivalu and Dubois, combative, hard on evil, although inconstant in touch, she knew how to make doubt the UBB, certainly author of two tries after her shots acceleration, coming to win a direct place in the semi-finals. A feverishness which was felt among the Girondins in the 50th by a stroke of blood from Douglas on Joly which triggered explanations between the two teams. And hardly offered more going to the rest of the game, when the USAP was masterful for its last at home. In 3rd place, Christophe Urios’ men will have to fight in the barrage to go to the half.
… Brive too
Until the final breeze of the Top 14 tornado, the USAP will have blown hot and cold in this championship, and maintained the flame of a direct maintenance by flirting near the non-relegation zone (13th) and worrying the team in front of her: Brive. This collective which, from the outset, for his return to the elite of French rugby had inflicted on him during the 1st day of the championship a hearty 36-15 as an appetizer. “We have to progress very quickly in rugby to be at the level and seek what we want this year”, announced the Catalan coach Patrick Arlettaz. Besides maintaining the USAP in the Top 14, what did the USAP want? Stay in front of Biarritz Olympique, the other promoted who went down just as dry. The thing has been done, and twice she will have defeated him. What else ? Be legit. Through play, she sometimes impressed, taking the best and the upper hand over big teams (victories against Stade Rochelais, Clermont, Stade Toulousain, Racing 92 at home), pushing others to their limits (defeats Racing 92, Stade Toulousain, Castres). While sometimes hurting themselves: by being outclassed in Lyon (47-3), by foiling against Pau (14-29), by sabotaging themselves at the last second on a bad recovery between Patricio Fernández and Melvyn Jaminet against the Stade Français (22-23), dying on the wire against Castres (19-20).
Thereafter, according to its experiences, its lessons, its disappointments, and the end of the season approaching, the USAP wished to play the card of realism. To herself above all, and to those who love her. In recent weeks, if not in recent months, she has integrated the word “access match” or play-off into her vocabulary. That of the last chance to stay in the Top 14 against the finalist of Pro D2. Without making it inevitable, let alone a taboo. But taking it as a chance. On this point, Patrick Arlettaz hammered home: “We are not going to be traumatized by it. To think that we will most certainly play the access match, it is not dirty. It is an additional chance to maintain ourselves.” Especially when, last night, the one with whom he elbowed for 12th place, Brive, did the job at Stade Français (33-17), saved his skin and ended a scarcity of victories at the outdoors since January 24, 2021 in Pau.
As a result, fate wanted USAP to play for its maintenance at Mont-de-Marsan, leader of the regular phase of Pro D2 but which did not manage to get rid of the Bayonne steamroller (20- 49) in the Pro D2 final yesterday. The story continues.