from hell to heaven, mission accomplished

Within a year, the sky and white club went from hell to heaven. From the trauma of the descent against the neighbor and lifelong rival, to the happiness of a return to the elite of French rugby. Meanwhile, a long season in the anteroom. Very long season. Thirty group matches, to which were added two final stage matches. 283 days started …

Within a year, the sky and white club went from hell to heaven. From the trauma of the descent against the neighbor and lifelong rival, to the happiness of a return to the elite of French rugby. Meanwhile, a long season in the anteroom. Very long season. Thirty group matches, to which were added two final stage matches. The 283 games began on August 26, 2021 with an improved victory against Agen (37-16).


The Bayonne Rowing started the season ideally by winning with the offensive bonus against Agen (37-16) for the opening game of the Pro D2 season. Bayonne on August 30, 2021

Bertrand Lapegue

A positive start in accounting, as will be the first block of this championship: four wins and a draw. The people of Bayonne are acting but there is still a taste of things to be done. A bit like a student with high potential who would be satisfied with the bare minimum, rowing succeeds, but not always attractive. He doesn’t lose but he doesn’t necessarily convince. We expect more from the big favorite of the season. Successes along the way.

This is emerging on the grass of Colomiers, during the 7th day. But it comes with a defeat (27-26). The first. Bayonne is then fourth in the standings, four points behind the leader of Mons. A surprising Landes formation that will humiliate him three weeks later, on November 5, on the lawn of Jean-Dauger (14-33). This season of Pro D2 will not be a cakewalk.

“Sun against all”

Behind the scenes, it’s not really cordial understanding. On November 7, “Southwest” reveals that Yannick Bru will leave the club at the end of the year. No matter the outcome. The former coach of the French national team is no longer recognized in the project carried out by President Philippe Tayeb. The staff as a whole does not really feel supported. And last but not least, the first shareholder challenges the board of directors. Accuse him of not keeping his promises. He even goes so far as to speak of “personal interests bordering on crimes of abuse of social property. »

In this context, players and coach are one. They are approaching the goal they set at the start of the season: to finish in the top two at the end of the group stage, synonymous with a semi-final at home. The shortest and least difficult way to find the Top 14. They will succeed. Not without damage.

They know where they want to go. They have a mission to fulfill and they are focused on it.

Because the Montois Stadium is not weakening. Oyonnax is a serious customer. On the 18th, the 21st of January, on the eve of the home defeat against Grenoble (35-37), the third row is six and nine points behind the leading duo. Bayonets are fickle, sometimes annoying to fans, but they are not scared. They know where they want to go. They have a mission to fulfill and they are focused on it. With a spirit of struggle close to “one against all”, they move forward.

Discreet release of Rowing players after the 35-37 home defeat against Grenoble on January 21, 2022.


Discreet release of Rowing players after the 35-37 home defeat against Grenoble on January 21, 2022.

Bertrand Lapegue

The impetus from Aix

At the helm, Mont-de-Marsan confirms game after game that it is the most attractive and efficient team in the league. Direct access to the semifinals thus becomes a duel with Oyonnax. On March 10, Uzair Cassiem and his teammates struck a blow, crushing Oyomen (52-21). They regain second place in the standings, two points ahead of Ain (80 to 78). But it is written that this season will not be a long, quiet river. So the bayonets tremble to the end.

Bayonne attack Joseva Ravouvou during the Aviron-Oyonnax meeting on March 10, 2022 easily won by the Rowing players with a score of 52 to 21.


Bayonne attack Joseva Ravouvou during the Aviron-Oyonnax meeting on March 10, 2022 easily won by the Rowing players with a score of 52 to 21.

Bertrand Lapegue

On the eve of the defeat on the turf of Carcassonne, on May 5, during the penultimate day (33-28), the dams seem more current than ever. Oyonnax host Aix-en-Provence the next day and are offered a golden opportunity to regain the runner-up spot, with only one point left (95 vs. 94) and one more game to play. But he failed, defeated 16-20. Good helping hand of destiny. Yannick Bru’s men will not let this blessed bread escape. During the final match, they beat Rouen (53-13). And they offer two weeks of preparation before receiving … Oyonnax, in the semifinals.

Remy Baget during the meeting Aviron-Rouen on May 12, 2022. Victory of the Bayonne 53-13.


Remy Baget during the meeting Aviron-Rouen on May 12, 2022. Victory of the Bayonne 53-13.

Bertrand Lapegue

“Where we wanted to be”

On May 26, as a summary of a chaotic season, they are stuffed. He led by eight points half an hour from the end (12-20). But Jean Monribot and his friends have faith. They have a mission to fulfill. A job to finish. They promised each other at the beginning of the season. They remembered him during an internship in Loudenvielle in late March. Nothing can stop them. Not even the last-minute desertions of Captain Mariano Galarza and the central Isaiah Taoeva.

Rowing victory over Oyonnax 32-20 on May 29, 2022 in the semifinals of Pro D2.  Here is the joy of the winners.


Rowing victory over Oyonnax 32-20 on May 29, 2022 in the semifinals of Pro D2. Here is the joy of the winners.

Bertrand Lapegue

Driven by strong substitutes, they quickly sting their delay and take the lead. The Oyomenes lose the thread of the encounter and their hopes with (32-20). Bayonne is in the final. “Where we wanted to be,” hammered the players and management.

They are both in tears. Happy with the job done. Proud to put Rowing back on the Top 14 map.

One week later, in Montpellier, a gala final is approaching. The first of the group stage against his runner-up. The most attractive lineup against the big favorite at the start of the season. Act III as a taste for revenge for the Bayonne who suffered two defeats against the Landais, but especially two episodes (Paper House and Peaky Blinders) that still remain in their throats.

Scheduled for this, the players of Avon quickly revealed that they are in control of the situation. Germain loves his long walk; Baget confirms his status as the best goal scorer by planting his 16th of the season. 20-10 in half: not expensive to pay. But this is just the beginning. In front of the overwhelmed Montois, Yannick Bru’s men delight his fans. Those present in the bays of the GLL Stadium like those who stayed in Bayonne, installed on the floor of the halls.

Bru savors

The tests are raining. The score is final (49-20). At the final whistle, a human tide invades the field. Drunk with happiness.

Final Pro D2: Rémy Baget test for Aviron against Stade Montois on June 5, 2022. 49-20, Aviron is champion.


Final Pro D2: Rémy Baget test for Aviron against Stade Montois on June 5, 2022. 49-20, Aviron is champion.

Bertrand Lapegue

Young Perchaud jumps like a goat in all directions; the future Dacquois Delonca rejoices with the Catalan flag at his waist. They are both in tears. Happy with the job done. Proud to have put the oar back on the Top 14 map. When the trophy was handed out, communion was complete. Yannick Bru, who finally had everything to lose in this story, as this return to the Elite must have been a formality for many, savored it. A little far at first. A matter of character. The story also to become aware of it with serenity, before being caught by the crowd.

Fans invaded the Bayonne town hall to greet the players of Rowing, Pro D2 champions on June 6, 2022.


Fans invaded the Bayonne town hall to greet the players of Rowing, Pro D2 champions on June 6, 2022.

Nicolas Mollo

The following afternoon is full of smiles, dancing and friendly exchanges between players and staff. The next day, on the balcony of the town hall, it is worthy of the inauguration of the Bayonne Festival. Thousands of people gathered in the square to cheer on their heroes and celebrate with them this title of champion of France and the return to the elite. Then everything is forgotten: tasteless victories, bitter defeats, whistles of disapproval.

Aviron Bayonnais has won the bet. That’s all that matters. With, icing on the cake, a dream ending. Summer will be merry in the capital of chocolate. Recovery is another story. It is up to the new staff led by Grégory Patat to write it. But one thing at a time.

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