Top 14: Biarritz disintegrates, Toulon fans furious at Louis Carbonel departure

Just when Biarritz fans thought things couldn’t get any worse, as petty a bout of politics as you could wish for has seen lifelong club figurehead Serge Blanco ousted.

With the club all but relegated, the town mayor going on record as saying it could not afford to be host to a professional rugby team any more and the owners and administrators of the club at permanent loggerheads, things were ready to go off at a moment’s notice. And so it happened on Monday.

Attack, and counter-attack

At a meeting called by Blanco of club members, for which the purpose was to get rid of the club’s amateur arm administrators (and which was successful), he learned that those same administrators – former players Jerome Thion, Imanol Harinordoquy and Dimitri Yachvili – had found enough irregularities in Blanco’s call for an extraordinary meeting to render it legally contestable.

Blanco also then learned that because of those irregularities, a vote had been taken which got rid of him too. He was replaced by Nicolas Brusque, who carried on with the vote Blanco had initiated and which got rid of Thion, Harinordoquy and Yachvili, replacing them with Laurent Mazas, Lou Ainara Dibarboure Goyenetche and Philippe Palau.

“It was well studied and set up,” said new President Brusque later in the evening of the counter-vote that saw Blanco ousted. “But whether it’s Serge who came out or me, there will always be someone to take over the role.”

The trio of former players, who have become known as ‘the Galactics’ in the French media, have taken the matter to court, arguing that Brusque’s instatement, and also their removal, is not legal because of the irregularities in the setup of the meeting. But given Brusque’s reaction after, you can imagine the mud-slinging that will ensue should the judge come down on the Galactics’ side.

“It’s official,” said Brusque of his appointment.

“If people question it, we will move on to a legal aspect. People have voted, we have more than 200 votes. There was a collective desire to put things back in place.

“From now on, the goal is to regain the desire and pride to wear this jersey, quite simply. Today, people who love this club are taking it back. Voting means what it is. There were 220 voters who unanimously elected us.”

The judge has said he will make a decision on April 19, with the status quo of Brusque as President retained in the meantime.

Things aren’t a great deal better in Toulon, despite the team’s recent upturn in form. A club fan group known as the Minots de Mayol, has launched a public petition to protest against the departure of fly-half Louis Carbonel to Montpellier next season.

Carbonel, who has been at Toulon since he was six years old, as was his father, has been censured by Toulon President Bernard Lemaitre for his role in the dressing-room rebellion against Patrice Collazo, and is said ultimately to have been pushed out by the club President, hence the fans’ fury.

“Louis Carbonel, he is the future great fly-half that we have been waiting for so much, that we have seen grow and win all the trophies… A Minot of the “Wilkinson Generation”, who had as a model the English metronome and the bubbling Matt Giteau,” read the petition.

“From Jonny, he inherited the precision in front of the posts and the vision of the game. From Giteau, an unbridled attack game and saving breakthroughs. From his father, the incandescent talent and the Red and Black deep in the gut.

“There are players you can’t imagine in another shirt. Little Louis is one of them.

“He seems to have unforgivable wrongs in the eyes of the club’s management. But if his crime is to have forcefully expressed his discomfort or with a club under the auspices of a coach who has since left… well he has taken it. Who would deny the revival since then?”

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