Saracens - Oyonnax - An Introduction

Dec 10, 2015

Oyonnax - An Introduction

One of the Top 14's less recognisable names, Union Sportive Oyonnax surprised everyone by reaching the play-offs for the first time in their history last season

Situated in the Rhône-Alpes region in eastern France, the town of Oyonnax is soley focussed on their rugby team, with the Oyonnaxien faithful helping provide a fervent atmosphere at Stade Charles Mathon.

After their most successful season, they were decimated over the off-season with the loss of a number of key players, and most notably coach Christophe Urios to Castres.

Although unfamiliar opposition, the Stade Charles Mathon will be a home away from home for Saracens, with Oyonnax having recently installed an artificial pitch at the ground. A significant change for a team that would often grind teams down in the mud at the Stade Charles Mathon.

Track record: Promoted to the Top 14 two years ago, Oyonnax confounded expectations by beating the drop in their first season. Last year was even more of a shock as they sneaked into the play-offs before coming desperately close to upsetting Toulouse away in the barrage. While their home record was the foundation for their success, they also picked up notable wins on the road at both clubs from the capital and Clermont.

Season so far:  Oyonnax have struggles to replicate their 2014/15 season form. Former Gloucester hooker Oliver Azam who was appointed Head Coach as a replacement for Castres-bound Christophe Urios in the summer, was axed in November. Head coach Christophe Urios along with a number of key players left the team at the end of a 2014/2015 campaign, which ended with the club qualifying for the Champions Cup.

Oyannax turned to former scrum-half Johann Authier as their new head coach after a tough start to the season. Authier played 140 matches for Oyonnax between 2008-2014 and helped the club win promotion from the Pro D2 in 2013.

Authier will work with assistant coaches Stéphane Glas (backs) and Pascal Peyron (forwards).

Oyonnax are currently bottom of the Top 14 with two wins from their first ten games in the league this season. In Europe, Oyonnax’s first game against Ulster was cancelled in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks. Their round two away game to Toulouse ended in defeat, with the four-time winners defeating Oyonnax 24-18.

Key players: Oyonnax's pack was its real strength. New arrival Marc Clerc (tighthead) will be key to replicating the forwards success. The Oyonnax back row is certainly a position of strength, with hard-carrying duo Viliami Ma'afu and former Quins man Maurie Fa'asavalu, packing down for the clib.

Saracens fans will recognise a former foe in shape of George Robson. The former Quins lock joined Oyonnax this summer.

In the backs, the offseason changes mean that new pairing Piri Weepu and Nicky Robinson have big shoes to fill, while Silvère Tian is the heartbeat of the side on the wing. Other former notable Premiership players in the ranks are ex-Newcastle and Harlequins fly-half Rory Clegg and ex-Exeter Chiefs flyer, Fetu'u Vainikolo.

Club Info:


Coach: Johann Authier

Captain: Florian Denos

Ground: Stade Charles Mathon

Capacity: 11,400

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