Jonathan Sexton has got an early taste of the idiosyncrasies of Racing Metro president Jacky Lorenzetti with the Paris club moving their first home match of the season 500km away to the seaside — because most of their supporters will be on holiday.
Sexton’s new club had requested that they be drawn away from home for the first round of the French Top 14, which starts in the middle of next month, because they feared they would not get a crowd as most Parisians are on vacation at that time.
Racing Metro officials were angry when they were drawn at home to Brive in the opening round and reacted by moving the match almost 500km away to La Rochelle.
Sexton could make his debut for Racing in that game, which will now take place at Stade Marcel Deflandre in La Rochelle on August 17, at the bustling seaside resort in the Bay of Biscay on the Atlantic coast.
Racing had looked at moving the match to Beziers in the south of France but have opted to play at the ground belonging to the Pro D2 side.
Sexton is expected to link up with his new club in the coming days, with his former colleague and rival Ronan O’Gara now settled in as part of the coaching team there for the new season.
Racing are giving free train tickets to their season ticket holders to make the trip to the tourist resort for the game.
“We decided to move the game to La Rochelle because we did not want to play in a stadium empty of spectators,” said a spokesperson for Racing Metro.
“We understand the disappointment of supporters that we do not open the season at Stade Yves du Manoir in Colombes.” Supporters who can’t make the trip to La Rochelle will be offered two extra free tickets to the home match against Oyonnax at the end of August, when Sexton will come into opposition with former Leinster colleague, Damian Browne.
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