FINANCIAL irregularities continue to cause unrest in the French Top 14, with Bourgoin set to follow Montauban into the lower divisions due to a failure to balance their books.
Bourgoin were relegated by French rugby’s financial watchdog, DNACG, on Saturday, and were also denied a professional licence.
The club are confident of winning an appeal to the Fédération Française de Rugby (FFR) over the decision, claiming to have reversed the financial plight that dogged them during last season’s league campaign.
The verdict marks a long period of tension between the club and the watchdog, which began with the suspension of 12 player licences at the start of last season and has now culminated in Bourgoin’s failure to deposit €900,000 to prove their financial viability for next season.
The DNACG, which had been hounding Bourgoin for the past month, tired of waiting to see the club’s accounts and relegated them on the same day the Top 14 fixtures were announced.
It is not yet clear whether they will be allowed take up their place in next season’s Amlin Challenge Cup.
At one point the players accepted a 20% pay cut, but despite their off-field strife. they showed admirable grit and determination throughout, picking up league wins over heavyweights Perpignan, Toulouse, Biarritz, Castres and Racing Metro, whom they beat home and away.
A club statement said the DNACG’s announcement was merely an “application of a procedural rule” and that Bourgoin was confident of remaining in Top 14 next season.
Should they fail in their appeal, they will thus follow Montauban to the Fédérale 1 division, after it was decided Montauban would fall only two divisions, despite going bankrupt at the end of last season. Montauban’s relegation meant that Bayonne stayed up in the Top 14 despite finishing 13th, and if Bourgoin follow Montauban it will be – comparatively – good news for Albi, who finished 14th.
Albi has said it is ready to make the step back up, despite being – in playing terms – well out of its depth last season. However, Albi must also find €600,000 to prove their own viability to the DNACG before the season starts.
Meanwhile, Thom Evans has been forced to retire from rugby due to a serious spinal injury sustained in Scotland’s RBS Six Nations clash with Wales in February.
The Scotland and Glasgow wing damaged two vertebrae in his back when he collided awkwardly with Wales full-back Lee Byrne.
Evans, who was capped 10 times by Scotland and played alongside brother Max for his country, had spoken of his desire to return to rugby but he has taken the decision to retire on medical advice. After the injury, Evans was treated on the field for 10 minutes.
Elsewhere, Agen say they expect a decision from Cardiff Blues number eight Andy Powell today, regarding a possible move to the French club.
Tinguad added that he expected controversial Fijian winger Rupeni Caucaunibuca – infamous for going AWOL at this time of year – will return to the club this week for pre-season training, despite being linked with a move to new Super 15 outfit Melbourne Rebels.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved