Biarritz make winning return to Top 14 despite off-field issues

Paris (AFP) –


Biarritz returned to the Top 14 with a 27-15 victory over Bordeaux-Begles on Saturday in their first match in the French top flight since suffering relegation in 2014.

The first match of the season in the Basque Country did not disappoint.

Biarritz were roared on by a vocal home crowd despite the club president has threatened to move the team almost 1,000km north to Lille.

"We are very satisfied. We wanted a quick start and to try to show that we can be competitive -- I hope we've done that," said sporting director Matthew Clarkin.

"I saw the intensity and the desire in this game."

Biarritz have the smallest budget in the division and president Jean-Baptiste Aldige said earlier this week that he may move the club due to a lack of support from the local government.

"We're escaping because we've (been) given a death sentence here," Aldige told AFP on Thursday.

But the players did not look distracted, as English fly-half Brett Herron kicked an early penalty before crossing to score their first try.

Three points from the boot of France star Matthieu Jalibert were all Bordeaux could muster in the first period as they trailed 17-3 at half-time.

Hooker Lucas Peyresblanques had touched down for Biarritz's second try before the break, and Romain Lonca scored in the 45th minute to put the game beyond Bordeaux's reach.

Herron kicked a penalty in the 52nd minute to extend the lead to 27-3 and take his points tally for the match to 17.

Bordeaux managed two late consolation tries through Alban Roussel and Yoram Moefana.

Elsewhere on the opening day, Enzo Herve scored 26 points as Brive thrashed promoted Perpignan 36-15, while Castres edged Pau 16-12.

Stade Francais host Racing 92 later on Saturday in a capital-city derby, before Montpellier visit Toulon.