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Pro D2: surprises, qualification, maintenance... Suspense at all levels before the last two days

The Pro D2 also has its share of surprises.

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Pro D2: surprises, qualification, maintenance... Suspense at all levels before the last two days

The Pro D2 also has its share of surprises. The second professional division does not yet know the team which will be relegated to the National. The roadblock positions are also not certain. The only certainties are the direct qualifications of Vannes and Provence Rugby, first and second in the ranking, in the last four. As the 29th and penultimate day of Pro D2 opens this Thursday with a lovely Vannes-Brive (9 p.m.), the state of play of a completely crazy championship.

Before this new day, the Vannes residents regained their place as leader of the competition with 87 points. After a fantastic start to the season, Jean-Noël Spitzer's men experienced a slightly more delicate period at the start of the year, notably with a defeat at Biarritz (12-10) then a setback at home against Grenoble (10- 17). Vannes also had three consecutive defeats at the end of 2023 against Grenoblois (15-12), Provence Rugby (17-17) and Brive (13-11). But the Bretons recovered well with cards against Dax (42-10), Montauban (26-36) and Rouen (52-14). To establish its leadership position, Vannes will have to get rid of Brive and Agen at the end of the season.

Provence Rugby had also displayed its ambitions at the start of the season. With ambitious and fruitful recruitment around the powerful Tomas Francis (75 caps with Wales) and Josh Tyrell, the dynamic Arthur Coville and Sione Tui, the Provençaux are in second place in the ranking, a small point behind the Vannes leader. Led in particular by the excellent Inga Finau (10 tries scored) and Adrien Lapègue (second best try scorer with 14 units), Mauricio Reggiardo's men are also directly qualified for the Pro D2 semi-finals. But would like, perhaps, to finish the regular phase in first position. To do this, we will have to negotiate the trip to Biarritz this Friday (9 p.m.) and beat Grenoble on the last day, hoping for a misstep from Vannes.

In January, Grenoble had a good blow by recovering four of its six points withdrawn in December due to an “inconsistency and/or implausibility of the updated budget”. Irregular during the season, the Grenoblois made a great comeback. The Isère club has had seven consecutive victories since a disappointment in Agen (40-3). Rouen, Vannes, Soyaux-Angoulême, Nevers, Aurillac, Biarritz and Béziers paid the price. Fourth, Grenoble - Pro D2 finalist last season - is only two points behind Béziers (3rd) and will host Colomiers before a trip to Provence Rugby, already qualified. The Grenoblois are perhaps the team in form at the end of the season.

Who would have bet on the Dacquois at the start of the season? Smallest budget in the division (5.5 million euros) and still promoted from Nationale (third division), the Landes club is in 5th place in the ranking, just three points from Béziers, third. Jeff Dubois' men are only two matches away from achieving a historic feat since no club, just promoted to Pro D2, has yet qualified. Beaten only twice at home by Vannes, the leader, and Provence, its runner-up, the Rouge et Blanc have also demonstrated mastery away from home with successes gleaned in Grenoble, Biarritz and even more recently in Mont-de-Marsan, in the Landes derby. Dax will host Agen this Friday then will travel to Nevers on the last day before turning, perhaps, to unexpected play-offs.

The Montois, in fact, burned a joker by losing at home against Dax. And despite their sixth place, the Yellow and Black no longer have the right to make mistakes if they want to qualify and will have to negotiate a trip to Montauban, which is fighting for its survival, and the reception of Rouen, at the same time. case than the Montalbanais. Nevers, too, no longer has the right to make mistakes. With four defeats in five matches including two at home, Xavier Péméja's men are seventh, tied with Stade Montois. The Nièvre players will travel to Béziers on Friday in a match that smells like gunpowder, before hosting Dax on the last day.

Coming down from the Top 14, Brive has disappointed this season. But eighth, two points from the first qualifying place, the Corréziens are still in the running to qualify. Pierre-Henry Broncan's men remain on a large victory against Aurillac (45-13) and will go to Vannes before welcoming Biarritz. Colomiers undoubtedly starts further back (9th, 64 points) but is still not dead in the race for the play-offs. But the Columérins will have to pull out all the stops in Grenoble on Friday to continue to hope. Not easy…

The other promoted, National champion, had a good season. Valence-Romans obtained its continuation in Pro D2 after showing a good face, especially at home. The VRDR therefore no longer has anything to play for like Soyaux-Angoulême, long stuck in the last places in the ranking. But the Charentais had three consecutive successes and won in Nevers on the 28th day. Agen, author of a disappointing run this year, is also maintained, just like Aurillac, who had a very good start to the season.

Certainly, this is not done in accounting terms for Biarritz. The Basques, authors of a catastrophic season despite solid recruitment (Haouas, Jonathan Joseph, Matthews, Searle, etc.), are seven points ahead of Montauban, penultimate and virtually a barrier. The Montalbanais are in great danger. If the 14th place taken so far in Biarritz would ensure their continuation, Pierre-Philippe Lafond's men will have to hope for two defeats from the BO and, at the same time, win two matches.

The task promises to be difficult. Especially since the Sapiac players will host Stade Montois and travel to Aurillac. Except that behind, Rouen, which we already thought was in the National a few days ago, is only three points behind Montauban. The Rouennais had fallen in their lair of Diochon Béziers then Provence Rugby before stringing together two defeats in a row. Sébastien Tillous-Borde's men will host Soyaux-Angoulême on Friday and will travel to Mont-de-Marsan on the final day.

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