Sunday 19 November 2017

Foley joins Coughlan as Pau chase European spot

Dave Foley has signed for Pau. Photo: Sportsfile
Dave Foley has signed for Pau. Photo: Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

James Coughlan has welcomed the latest Munster exile to link up with France's surprise Champions Cup candidates after second-row Dave Foley confirmed his signing for Pau.

The Pyrénées side have stormed into contention for the play-off places in the Top 14 despite a modest budget and currently lie in sixth, good enough for automatic qualification for the Champions Cup and a league tilt via the play-offs.

Foley will join another erstwhile colleague Paddy Butler and, with ex-Ulster Academy man Sean Dougall also on the books of a club coached by one-time Munster assistant Simon Mannix, Pau could boast a pack with four Irishmen next term.

"If we got sixth or seventh, we'd be delighted," said James Coughlan, who captained the side against Clermont last weekend. "We won the toss," he says wanly, following the 65-13 away defeat.

That was not a game his side had targeted, though, and they remain on track to at least secure a seventh-placed slot that would guarantee them another potential route into Europe, possibly via a meeting with Connacht.

"That was our aim at the start of the season but, to be fair, when it comes to Europe, it remains to be seen how seriously the club might take it even if we did qualify, given that we are run off one of the smallest budgets in the league.

"Staying in the league and being competitive is important, we all know what happened to Oyonnax a few years back.

"They had a great season like us, got into Europe but then immediately got relegated. The bigger clubs like Clermont and Toulouse can probably target both competitions, such is the strength of their squads.

"We felt we could get this far but I don't know if a lot outside thought we could. We have trained well, we have good players who have all added."

Clonmel native Foley, 28, made his debut against Connacht in April 2010 but his European debut didn't arrive until 2014, such is the competition within the squad that has arguably led him to this decision.

Foley made 84 appearances for the province but a wrist injury sustained in February ended his current campaign, damaging his chances of earning a new deal as Munster coach Rassie Erasmus plots a player overhaul.

Foley has two Ireland caps, making his debut against Georgia in 2014, as well as touring twice with Emerging Ireland.

Irish Independent

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