2022 Union Bordeaux Begles vs Castres Olympique

French Top 14 Round 3 Preview & Predictions

French Top 14 Round 3 Preview & Predictions

A look at the French Top 14 Rugby preview and predictions for Round 3, Dupont's dominant performance and Madosh Tambwe.

Sep 15, 2022 by RugbyPass
French Top 14 Round 3 Preview & Predictions

Lyon will travel to the incredible Paris La Défense Arena to take on Racing 92 in an important early season fixture. This for sure is the game of the week.

Both sides enter the game at 1-1, having each won their first-round fixtures, before falling in Round 2. 

Lyon, in particular, will be disappointed to have lost at home, knowing just how tough it is to win on the road in the Top14. 

Off the field, Racing made waves this week with the signing of former England winger Christian Wade. Having tried his hand at American football with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, Wade returned initially with Racing’s 7s team, before signing permanently with the club.

Antoine Dupont To Dominate In Pau Fixture 

Admittedly, the French scrumhalf superstar could be the man to watch every week, but Dupont’s performance in Round 2 was simply otherworldly. 

Already regarded as the best player in the world by many, Dupont has hit the ground running this season. 

Having had a comedown of sorts last season, falling in the semifinals in both the Heineken Champions Cup and Top14, Toulouse will be looking to reclaim both titles this season.

Dupont is, of course, crucial to this ambition, as he also is to France’s World Cup hopes in 2023. 

His stat line from Round 2 looks like something out of a video game, with the most notable points being, 141 running meters, six defenders beaten, three turnovers won and two try assists. 

Simply put, Dupont transcends the traditional role of a scrumhalf, operating more as a do-it-all gadget player. 

Watch Antoine Dupont Tear Apart Toulon

Familiar Face In An Unfamiliar Role

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest men to ever play in a backline, Mathieu Basteraud, returns to the Top14 and and his former club Toulon this week.

Having most recently represented Lyon, Basteraud’s return to Toulon undoubtedly will gather some serious interest. Currently operating in a player/coach role, the 33-year-old looks to be setting himself up for a post-playing career. 

In a fascinating turn of events, Basteraud is set to commit fully to playing in the No. 8 shirt, rather than his customary 12 or 13. Having initially made the move with Lyon, his transition now appears to be permanent. 

At 130kg (286 pounds) Basteraud is no shrinking violet and will be more than capable of holding his own in the close quarter exchanges. In fact, his addition as hybrid player could lead to several mismatches around the pitch, should he be deployed in a wider role the opportunity for physical mismatches will be abundant. 

Should they choose to keep him in closer, his offloading ability could lead to a more fluid attack that keeps play alive, rather than automatically forming a ruck. 

Congolese Diamond To Shine

Congolese-born Madosh Tambwe has been making waves in the rugby world for the past two seasons.

Having initially made his professional debut for the Sharks in South Africa, before switching to their arch-rival Blue Bulls in 2021, Tambwe’s move to the Top 14 came out of left field.

Still under contract with the Bulls when Bordeaux made contact, Tambwe paid some of his remaining contract personally to make the switch the French giants. 

Now fully established in the Bordeaux set up, the flying winger made an incredible debut, scoring two tries in the space of five minutes against Toulouse. 

Despite his heroics, Bordeaux slipped to consecutive defeats to open the season, making this week’s clash with last year’s losing finalists, Castres, a must-win.

It will be interesting to watch how the 25-year-old's career develops over the coming seasons, as at one point, he looked certain to follow in the footsteps of fellow Congolese star, Raymond Rhule, by representing the Springboks. 

Having not quite got his citizenship yet, the Bok dream appears to be on hold.

South Africa’s loss is the Top 14’s gain, as Tambwe looks to be a real star in the making.  

Match Predictions 

Bordeaux Begles Vs. Castres
A must win for Bordeaux, which could find itself in a relegation battle one season removed from a semi-final appearance if the team can't right the ship immediately. Bordeaux by three. 

Brive Vs. Montpellier
Third plays fourth in this one, with both sides rebounded from opening-round defeats, with Brive picking up an impressive road win over a struggling Perpignan. Montpellier saw off Bordeaux with ease in a repeat of last year’s semifinal. Little to choose between the sides, but Montpellier’s home advantage will see it home. Montpellier by five. 

La Rochelle Vs. Perpignan 
European champion La Rochelle has gotten off to a flying start, sitting pretty atop the table alongside Toulouse. 

This has the potential to be the most lopsided affair of the weekend. 

Ronan O’Gara’s side know how important it is to close out “easy” fixtures and pick up bonus points to avoid road playoffs later in the season. La Rochelle by 18.

Stade Francais Vs. Bayonne
Both sides are difficult to read this early in the season. Both have had big wins and ugly losses. In typical Top14 form, the wins were at home, while the losses were away. A real toss-up, but Montpellier home advantage likely is important. Stade Francais by six.

Racing 92 Vs. Lyon
Upset of the week incoming! 

Lyon got a monkey off its back last season by winning the Challenge Cup. Sure, it is the second division of European competition, but it was a milestone, nonetheless. 

Racing has become stagnant in recent seasons, and with reports circling that big changes are coming at the end of the season, this feels like a game that could slip away from them. Lyon by two.

Pau Vs. Toulouse
The one fixture where not even the vaunted home advantage can help, Toulouse will steam roll its hosts, with Antoine Dupont pulling the strings once again. Toulouse by 12.

Toulon Vs. Clermont
My second choice for game of the week. Archrivals throughout the 2010-2020 time period, both sides have slipped out of contention as two of Europe’s toughest sides to beat. 

Despite this, they remain competitive and appear to once again be building. The State Mayol is a tough place to pick up a win. Toulon by three.

Written by Philip Bendon