It was hard to tell who won the clash of USA players in France when Scott LaValla and Stade Francais took on Taku Ngwenya and Biarritz Saturday.
Ngwenya scored a try early, but Biarritz lost in the end 36-23. Stade may have won, and LaValla may have shown well when he played, but the USA back row/lock left the field after 18 minutes with what looked like a shoulder injury. Both players were instrumental for their squad, and Stade learned early not to allow Ngwenya the ball.
After the USA wing’s try, Stade worked to kick the ball away from him. LaValla was extremely active, and in one short sequence was involved in open play, rucking in support of the player he passed to, chased down a kick no one else was chasing, and then caught another kick no one else wanted to catch.
After that last play LaValla bulled through a couple of tacklers and recycled the ball, but did not get up. He eventually rejoined the game, but just for one play and then left.
Up north in the UK, Samu Manoa and the Northampton Saints were disappointed to lose 18-9 to Harlequins in England’s Aviva Premiership. Meanwhile Chris Wyles started at fullback for Saracens, which shut out Bath 22-0.
With those results Northampton dropped from third to 5th in the league, while Saracens held on to second place at 8-2-1.
Wasps play Sale Sunday. Paul Emerick, recovering from an injury, will not play.
Rolan Suniula was not in the lineup for Auch in the French Pro D2 league this weekend.
In Japan, Todd Clever started at No. 8 for NTT as they beat Kintetsu 13-10 in the Kapan Top League. The victory was crucial as it secured for NTT a spot in the wild card playoff, with a path to the final playoff rounds if they do well.
In Italy’s Serie A, Lou Stanfill helped Vicenza to a huge 52-14 win over Parma Rugby. Stanfill was a tower of strength for his team – he was dubbed by the locals the Sacramento Bulldog - and scored a try.
Robbie Shaw is back in action for Richmond. He was held out of the starting lineup his first weekend back from playing for the USA – a tradition at the club that goes back 150 years. But he was strong for Richmond last week in a tight victory over Esher and this weekend helped Richmond over Old Albanians in SSE National Division 1 in England.
That victory puts Richmond at 7-6-3.