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Pienaar Back at Montpellier but for How Long?

Ruan Pienaar has returned to Montpellier but there is no certainty that he will stay

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Photo by THIERRY BRETON/AFP/Getty Images

Ruan Pienaar has returned to training at Montpellier following his six-week compassionate leave following the death of his sister.

However, his future with the French side appears to be uncertain.

The former South African No 9, hasn’t played for the Top 14 side since their Champions Cup loss to Edinburgh in January and coach Vern Cotter has confirmed Pienaar needs to get back up to speed physically after his time away.

“Because he hasn’t done anything physical, his first aim will be to get back on form in the space of three weeks. Then if the team needs him he’ll bring all his experience with him,” he said.

In any case, there was a mid-season split among the team’s dressing room and the former Ulsterman was apparently involved. The team are also currently sitting in ninth in the Top 14 table, having gone all the way to the final last year.

With only six games remaining in the regular season and with Pienaar currently not up for selection it looks unlikely that he will play again this season.

All of this coupled with the fact that his contract in France running out next year it appears that the scrum-half may look at other options, with a return to the Pro14 on the cards as the Cheetahs are linked wit him.

Hopefully, the half-back will not only get back in shape but be back playing regularly with whatever team and back to his spectacular self.

International

Huge Suspension Handed to Tongan Star

One of Tonga’s main men has been handed a big suspension as he heads back to play club rugby following the team’s elimination from the World Cup

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(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Tongan hooker has been handed a heavy ban after admitting to foul play during the side’s final Rugby World Cup game against the USA on Sunday.

Ngauamo admitted that he kicked an opposition player in the face contrary to Law 9.12 (kicking) during the Sunday’s 31-19 win. 

An independent Judicial Committee in Tokyo sat on Tuesday and after taking into account the situation at hand in which the Tongan player clearly kicked an opponent in the face they decided it would warrant at least a mid-range offence. 

Under World Rugby’s mandatory sanctions a mid-range entry point results in a minimum eight-week suspension, which was handed down to Ngauamo. 

However, after taking into account the player’s admission to the offence at an early stage in proceedings as well as his good disciplinary record up to the offence they chose to take a week off the ban meaning he will serve a seven-week suspension. 

The player is returning to his home country today before jetting back to France where he will return to Top 14 club Agen, but will now be out of selection for seven-weeks meaning he will not feature until around December in what is a huge blow for him and the club.

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Top 14

Scottish Star Heads to France

One of Scotland’s players that was left out of their Rugby World Cup squad has decided to move to the French Top 14

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(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Scotland star Josh Strauss has confirmed a short-term deal with French Top 14 side Stade Francais following his omission from the Rugby World Cup squad.

Having made his international debut for Scotland in 2015 the South African made what could be his last appearance for the national side last Saturday when he came off the bench against Georgia before being left out of Gregor Townsend’s squad.

The 32-year-old has wasted no time dwelling on his omission and has been unveiled as a World Cup joker for Stade Francais on what is a minimum three-month contract.

“This challenge is really exciting in this period of the World Cup. It’s a great opportunity in my career and in my life. Everything happened very quickly. I had to make a quick decision and I’m very happy to be here. I already worked with Heyneke Meyer and I already know some players in the team. I’m very happy to join the Stade Francais Paris,” he said.

The club’s head coach Heyneke Meyer is delighted to have Strauss on board to bring experience in while others are in Japan.

“We have several absentees in our squad following injuries or players selected for the World Cup. We have therefore been looking for an experienced profile to overcome the youth of our group. Josh has played for the Scottish national team, has a lot of experience, but most of all, he’s going to give us his leadership. I’m glad he joins the club,” he said.

It will be interesting to see where Strauss ends up after his short-term deal whether he stays on in France or heads somewhere else but what also remains to be seen is if he will play for Scotland again in the future.

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Bastareaud Set for Lyon Debut in Pack

Mathieu Bastareaud has been named to start in his first match for Lyon, but he won’t be in his usual position

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

French star Mathieu Bastareaud is set to make his anticipated debut for Lyon and will start at No 8 as they face Grenoble.

The 54-cap France international signed for Lyon on a short-term contract from Toulon before he heads on to MLR in the US.

It was suggested recently that the centre could move into the pack as an experiment to combat the fact that he is losing his pace.

Earlier this year former French international Thomas Castaignede also suggested that the 20 stone centre should move into the forwards to try and prolong his international career.

However, having been left out of France’s World Cup squad and then retiring from international rugby it seems more like a tactical decision.

Lyon have brought a 36-man squad for the game so if the Bastareaud experiment fails they have Carl Fearns on the bench to bring on.

The main thing is that if it doesn’t work there is still a couple of weeks until the Top 14 season starts, and if it does work then Bastareaud will have some more time to learn the ropes.

It will be interesting to see how it all pays off, but if it does work then Lyon could have a new weapon in their squad until he departs for New York.

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