Top 14 play-offs: Samson ready to deliver knockout blow

first_imgVictory against Montpellier in front of their home crowd would see Samson pack down against Clermont, the side he won the coveted Bouclier de Brennus with in 2010, in the semis. The French international is under no illusion as to how tough both assignments will be. “It’s going to be hard as every team is playing at a similar level, so it will come down to minor details,” he admits. “We need to be as precise as possible. It’s knockout rugby.”Castres boast a squad that is good enough to worry any team on the day. In South African scrum-half Rory Kockott they have this season’s second highest scorer with 326 points from 25 games – just 24 points behind Jonny Wilkinson – and so often the focal point for players like Max Evans and ex-Gloucester flyer Marcel Garvey to feed off.Once the Lions tour is over, Evans’s countryman Richie Gray will be joining the Tarn-based outfit; a move Samson says is great for the club despite the fact they may be rivals for the No 4 shirt. “We are losing Joe Tekori (Castres lock and captain, leaving to join Toulouse), who is an integral member of the team,” he adds, “so to recruit a player of equal calibre – we can see that in his good performances for Scotland – is great for the squad going forward.”Whilst Gray is off taming Wallabies, Samson hopes to maintain his presence in the French squad that he was called up to last summer. Argentina were the opponents then and after starting against both England and Ireland in this year’s Six Nations he’s dead-set on taking on what is his biggest international challenge to date – the All Blacks. Committed: Samson (centre) relishes the chance to pack down against Clermont and world champions New ZealandBy Tom BentleyFOUR CONSECUTIVE play-off appearances point to a team consistently vying for the top echelons of French rugby. Yet Castres remain the quiet outsiders as the likes of Clermont and Toulon steal much of the limelight. Christophe Samson is a man who has played at both those clubs and now, at 29, finds himself flourishing at the heart of the Castres pack.“A lot is said of the clubs ahead of us at the moment.Toulon and Clermont are two of the best teams in Europe – they are in the (Heineken Cup) final – so it’s normal that they make the headlines. But we are still making progress in our corner, with the goal of going further than last year,” says the lock.Last year Castres came up short in the Top 14 semi-finals. Samson wasn’t at the club then but was busy playing his part as replacement for veteran Simon Shaw in Toulon’s run to their first championship final in 20 years. In both games though, a mighty Toulouse outfit came out on top.On Saturday, Castres will host fifth-placed Montpellier – the teams’ third consecutive meeting at this stage of the season – after bringing a losing bonus point home from a potential banana-skin encounter at Racing Metro on the last day of the regular league season.“A home quarter-final would be great for us as a team and would also give our supporters a final match to enjoy at Pierre Antoine,” said Samson before the game which Castres lost 29-28. Nevertheless, it was job done. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Castres Olympique’s Christophe Samson (2ndR) is tackled by Stade Francais’ Pascal Pape (2ndL) and Stanley Wright (R) during their French Top 14 rugby union match, on September 8, 2012, at the Charlety stadium in Paris. AFP PHOTO FRANCOIS GUILLOT (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/GettyImages) “They are world champions, have always had iconic players and have been the team to beat in world rugby for a good few years. To play them, especially on their own turf, would be a memorable experience in any rugby man’s career, so I hope to be part of the journey.”He’s already got the French media on his side, with France’s famed rugby paper Midi Olympique awarding him the accolade of Best Player in France for the month of March. It’s an award that he says is testimony to Castres’ season – a season which has just reached the business end.last_img read more

On the move

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. On the moveOn 16 Mar 2004 in Personnel Today Douglas Frost has joined pharmaceutical group Alliance UniChem as group HRdirector designate. Most recently, Frost was European organisation andmanagement development director of the Mars Group. Jacuzzi UK, one of the largest bathroom manufacturers in the UK, hasappointed Joanne Wormald as human relations manager. Based at the firm’s headoffice in Bradford, she will be responsible for managing HR across the company.Jacuzzi currently employs around 800 staff in the UK. Trinity Mirror, the UK’s largest newspaper publisher, has appointed regionalHR directors for the company’s southern and Scotland regions. The new positionsare taken up by Richard Boon (pictured), regional HR director, South, andLesley Sommerville, who joins as regional HR director, Scotland. The drive to modernise the practices of Warrington Borough Council has beenboosted by the secondment of a top senior civil service inspector. Peter Munro,currently a business inspector with the Department of Health, has joined the councilfor one year as programme director (management and organisation development). Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

Wenger loses cool as Chelsea win

first_img Wenger refused to take a backwards step in the 20th minute after leaving his technical area following Gary Cahill’s tackle from behind on Alexis Sanchez. Mourinho told the Frenchman to “back off” as their rivalry endured another ugly episode, with the Gunners boss firmly planting two hands on the Portuguese’s chest – risking Football Association disciplinary action – and the pair also eye-balling each other in close quarters. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger shoved Jose Mourinho as their long-running feud turned physical in a 2-0 win which saw Chelsea take a five-point lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League. The major flashpoint of the match occurred when Cahill slid in recklessly on Sanchez to the left of the Chelsea dugout. Wenger, this week celebrating his 18th anniversary at the Arsenal helm, strode towards the incident, walking across the Chelsea technical area as he made his objections. Mourinho reminded his adversary he was in his territory, telling the Frenchman to retreat to his own designated space, only for the Gunners boss to object and place his hands on Mourinho’s chest. Fourth official Jonathan Moss intervened not once but twice, the second time after the managers had exchanged views almost nose to nose. Moss explained the events to referee Martin Atkinson, who had booked Cahill, and then left the managers in no doubt that their behaviour would not be tolerated. There was further cause for alarm on the touchline when Courtois required attention after his head had been caught as Sanchez chased a Jack Wilshere through ball. The Belgium goalkeeper played on before needing further treatment, with Mourinho encroaching on to the field to alert Atkinson. Cech came on, determined to seize his chance after being relegated to the substitutes’ bench this term following a decade in the first team. It was Cech’s 480th Chelsea appearance, just his second as a replacement. Hazard was the catalyst for the on-field action igniting when he burst past Santi Cazorla and Chambers and into the area. Koscielny stuck out a leg and tripped Hazard, who tucked in the penalty himself. The visitors were fortunate not to have Chambers sent off for two bookable offences before the interval. Chambers had tripped Hazard to earn his yellow card and he then hauled down Andre Schurrle on the edge of the area, but avoided further sanction. Cazorla flashed a shot wide from Sanchez’s pass as Arsenal failed to test Cech early in the second half before Szczesny twice mis-hit clearances and was relieved to see the first bounce to a man in red off Costa. Szczesny’s reflexes saved Arsenal after Hazard beat Chambers and crossed. Flamini turned the ball towards his own goal, with Szczesny palming the ball on to the post. Wilshere’s pleas for a handball against Fabregas were rejected and Chambers blasted over as Arsenal tried to find an equaliser, with Chelsea playing largely on the counter-attack. Costa teed-up Hazard, who clipped the ball over, but the Blues had their second when Fabregas lifted his pass over the Arsenal defence for the Spain striker to run on to it. Costa, playing his third game in nine days despite his fragile hamstrings, won the race for the ball and flicked it over the on-rushing Szczesny to seal victory. There was still time for Danny Welbeck to be booked for a reckless foul on Fabregas and Costa’s blushes to be spared by the offside flag as he missed an open goal in a comfortable Chelsea win. Sanchez had earlier clattered Thibaut Courtois in the head in challenging for the ball, with the goalkeeper playing on for a short time before departing the stadium for precautionary tests. Petr Cech was on the field when Chelsea took the lead through an Eden Hazard penalty awarded after the Belgian slalomed through two challenges before being felled by Laurent Koscielny as the Arsenal defence failed to follow Wenger’s combative example. Calum Chambers might have been sent off for two bookable offences in the first half and Wojciech Szczesny made a fine save to prevent Mathieu Flamini from turning the ball into his own net as Arsenal survived two scares in a feisty contest. Cesc Fabregas might have conceded a penalty for handball before the former Arsenal captain played a beautifully flighted pass to allow Diego Costa to net his ninth Premier League goal of the season. Although Arsenal showed more steel than in March’s 6-0 capitulation in Wenger’s 1,000th match in charge, it means the Frenchman is still to taste victory over a Chelsea side managed by Mourinho after 12 attempts. Mourinho on Friday refused to apologise for in February labelling Wenger “a specialist in failure” and their latest contretemps will have soured the relationship further. The Chelsea boss will barely care as his side took a commanding advantage over second-placed Manchester City into the international break after dropping just two points in the opening seven games. There was a 15-minute delay to the scheduled 1405BST kick-off between the two remaining unbeaten teams in the top flight after a flare was lit on the approach to the visiting end. Press Associationlast_img read more