Simon Zebo limped off eight minutes into Racing 92’s Top 14 victory over Clermont at the weekend, giving boss Laurent Travers an injury headache ahead of Sunday’s Champions Cup return against Munster.
The full back watched the rest of the 27-19 win from the sidelines with an ice pack on his right ankle, before leaving La Defense Arena on crutches.
Despite starring in the 21-21 Champions Cup draw against Munster at Thomond in November, Zebo has endured a difficult second season in France and, until Saturday’s brief return to action, had not featured for his club since early December.
Clermont rested Morgan Parra, but otherwise fielded a near-full strength side against a Racing side that, for all their riches and star power, can be frail at home. They have lost three times at La Defense Arena this season.
Racing’s win was more convincing than the eight-point difference in the scoreline suggested.
Remarkably, given some of their commanding performances in Europe, Clermont — who will want revenge against Ulster on Saturday — have yet to pick up a bonus point in the Top 14 this season.
La Rochelle’s dreams of a European rugby knockout return have long been dashed, but they could still have a decisive role in Pool Two, with matches against Sale, on Friday, and Exeter to come. There was enough in their five-try 44-13 win at Pau on Saturday to indicate that Ronan O'Gara’s efforts to create a Super Rugby-Top 14 hybrid might even succeed.
Toulouse will be in a foul mood for Saturday’s trip to the Sportsground to face Connacht. A late try from the returning Cheslin Kolbe last night was not enough to stop them losing for the first time since October 19, beaten 30-18 by Stade Francais.
Connacht’s other French Pool Five rivals, Montpellier, were made to work for their 29-26 home win over Brive in their final outing before Saturday’s match at Gloucester.
For the second season in a row, Europe has cursed Lyon. Before the Champions Cup kicked off in November, Pierre Mignoni’s side had won eight from nine in the Top 14, and were five points clear of second-placed Bordeaux, and 14 ahead of the chasing pack.
Since then, they have won three from eight, including one in four Champions Cup games, and slipped to second in the Top 14. Their latest outing was a scarcely deserved 13-12 victory at Agen.
It came at a price. Centre Pierre-Louis Barassi became the 14th to join Lyon’s injury list when he went off for an HIA in the first half and did not return. He was later taken to hospital with a suspected broken cheekbone, and looks certain to miss out on the weekend trip to Dublin to face already-qualified Leinster.
Bordeaux scored all their points in the first half to ease past Bayonne 22-3, while Toulon won an ill-tempered game against Castres 43-3 to extend their unbeaten streak to six.