May 3, 2014
The match between Castres and Aviron Bayonne was important for both teams. For Bayonne they needed to win to avoid relegation and Castres needed to win to maintain 4th spot and maintain their home ground advantage in the finals.
We met Jean Jacques and Guy at La Concha restaurant in Anglet for a meal before the match. The restaurant is right at the mouth of the Adour river looking out to the Atlantic and is predominantly a fish restaurant. The wines were excellent and the food was very good. Everyone had grilled sole. I had not had a sole since I left England in 1965 and I remember having a evening meal at Wheelers in St James with Anne and David Griffiths before leaving for Australia. I don't know if Wheelers is still there but I am tossing up between Sheekys in St Martins Place or Wheelers in St James when we return to England in June. Anyway it is not possible to get sole at restaurants in Australia so it was good to have it here.
We drove into Bayonne and the area around the stadium was packed so we parked almost in the middle of a road nearby which seemed to be what all the Bayonne supporters did. Luckily the gendarmes seem to turn a blind eye to such anti social behaviour on match days. We found our seats in the stand allocated to the Castres supporters and soaked up the atmosphere. There was a lot of singing and the Basques supporters were in good voice. The Bayonne mascot worked overtime to get the crowd fired up and the Bayonne team rose to the occasion.
Castres were never in the match. They made mistake after mistake and the final ignominy occurred when they had a penalty not far out and they took a kick to get a line out within a few meters of their try line. The kicker mis-kicked and put the ball over the 'in goal' area for a 22 drop out to Bayonne. What a disgrace. I have never seen that happen even in club rugby in Melbourne. Poor Guy had the mother and father of a cold and had to drive all the way back to Castres (four hour's drive) after having driven across in the morning. Luckily we had decided to stay in Biarritz just five minutes away.
The poor result was capped off by hearing that Harlequins had lost to Box Hill 14-29, to surrender the Bruce Bailey Blazer.