Bet: Oyonnax -1.5
The first day of Pro D2 ends this Sunday at 16h15 with a clash between Aurillac and Oyonnax. The meeting was originally scheduled on Friday evening, but was postponed following the accidental death of Louis Fajrowski, the Aurillacois center.
Aurillac finished 10th last season after playing the lead in 2016/2017. This summer, they lost a very large number of players. Maxime Escur (Tarbes), Maxime Granouillet (Colomiers), Nemani Nagusa (Newcastle), Romain Briatte (Agen), Utu Maninoa (Montauban), Théo Nanette (Grenoble), Maxime Petitjean (retired), Alex Luatua (Montauban), Robet Lilomaiava (Montauban) have all left the club. To compensate for these departures, the directors have taken in many young players and many unknowns.
Aurillac had a drama last week. His centre, Louis Fajrowski died after a friendly match. His funeral took place last Friday and the players are still in shock.
The aurillacoise infirmary is already full. About fifteen players are injured. Among them, there are several potential starters like Anthony Alves, Gregory Fabro, Christian Ostberg, Flavien Nouhaillaguet, Feliuaki Taukeiaho, Lucas Seyrolle, Jone Waqaliva. The XV which starts this Sunday seems to me very light in front. At the back, there are some good players but the bench is weak.
Oyonnax finished second to bottom of TOP 14 after coming out of nowhere. The players of Haut-Bugey thought they had done the hardest but they lost in a play-off in Grenoble ! Despite the downhill, Oyonnax managed to keep many leaders. The USO’s opener Ben Botica, who has been invited by many TOP 14 clubs, has chosen to continue the adventure at USO. He was followed by Tommy Raynaud, Valentin Ursache, Phoenyx Battye, Bilel Taieb, Rory Grice, Dug Codjo, … Only five important players have left the club: Hika Elliot (not retained), Viliami Ma’afu (retired), Patrick Sobela (LOU), Ulupano Seuteni (Bordeaux) and Daniel Ikpefan (Toulon).
Oyonnax even managed to recruit several confirmed players like Etienne Herjean (Brive), Joffrey Michel (Montpellier) or Blaise Dumas (Vannes). This team has managed to maintain stability and this can be seen in the start XV. The front 8 is very solid and at the back, there is speed and quality. What about the bench which has many skilled players.
The Pro D2 is very strong this season. We could see a two-tier championship. Aurillac could experience a very difficult start to the season with its infirmary full and its many departures of leaders. I see the USO making a big start. Right handicap : Oyonnax -4.5