Saturday 18 November 2017

Biarritz at a glance

Where do they play?

Parc des Sports Aguilera, capacity of close to 15,000. Bigger games such as Sunday's clash with Munster are switched to the Estadio Anoeta in San Sebastian in Spain, which holds 32,000.

What are they worth?

Biarritz Olympique are a well-run club but not in the same league financially as Toulon, Toulouse, Clermont or Stade. Their turnover from tickets, sponsors, merchandising etc gives them a budget of around €12m, with a wage bill of around €5m.

Is it rugby town?

Not as much as it is a surfing town. Famous for its beaches, Biarritz is one of the coolest hang-outs in southern Europe. It's all about the Basque in Biarritz and their sport of pelota is also popular (it's a bit like handball with paddles).

Who coaches them?

Director of rugby -- Laurent Rodriguez

A legend of the 1980s and one of the hardest No 8s ever to play the game,

Co-coach -- John Isaac

Australian linked with switch to Worcester next season as No 2 to Dean Ryan.

Co-coach -- Jean-Michel Gonzalez

A nuggety hooker in his day, Irish fans would remember 'Gonzo' from his time with France in the early 1990s and at the 1995 World Cup. Had a good line-out partnership with fellow Biarritz man Olivier Roumat.

Star names?

Two of them may not be on show this weekend as centre Damien Traille is definitely out and peerless back-row Imanol Harinordoquy is a serious doubt. Jerome Thion, their captain, is a huge influence in the second row and Dimitri Yachvilli their string-puller from scrum-half.

Any Irish connection?

No Paddies in the squad but three Englishmen -- Iain Balshaw, Ayoole Erinle and Magnus Lund.

European Record?

Have never won the Heineken Cup but got to the final in 2006 only to lose to Munster in Cardiff. Reached the semi-finals in 2004 and 2005.

And at home?

Have won the French championship five times, twice in the 1930s and in 2002, 2005 and 2006.

Famous old boys?

Serge Blanco is their best-known ex-player, 'Bayonne Express' Patrice Lagisquet is another former player and coach, while Wallaby winger Joe Roff played there in 2001/02.

Anything else?

Have one of the most passionate sets of supporters in French rugby, whose ceaseless chanting of "Bee Oh, Bee Oh" is not a complaint about the waft coming off visiting fans but refers to the club's initials.

Irish Independent

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