Cardiff Blues focus on three to watch ahead of Sunday's big Heineken Cup match against Montpellier, 12.45pm kick off
Coached by fomer French scrum half Fabien Galthié, Montpellier’s finest hour was in June 2011, when they appeared in their first Top 14 final at the Stade de France in Paris in front of 77,000 spectators.
Stade Toulousain were the 15 points to 10 winners on the day but reaching the final was a great achievement for club that was only formed in 1986.
With a strong pack and skilful backs we look at three players to watch ahead of Sunday’s big game:
Fulgence Ouedraogo is the current captain of Montpellier and is recognised throughout France and the rugby world as a truly outstanding talent. He featured in all of France’s recent autumn internationals in tandem with Louis Picamoles and Yannick Nyanga in the French back-row. He will play a vital role in the tricolores 2013 Six Nations campaign. He was prominent in Montpellier’s outstanding 2010/11 season but unfortunately fractured his hand in a memorable 26-25 semi-final victory against Racing Metro at Marseille and proceeded to miss the final. Fulgence was born in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and along with Louis Picamoles, François Trinh-Duc and Julien Tomas are examples of fine young players developed by the club.
François is probably the only rugby player of Vietnamese origin to play international rugby. He has represented France on 35 occasions and possesses the wizardry associated with great fly-halves of the past and present. Allied to his fearless defence is an attacking instinct which allows him to constantly create space for his colleagues. He was prominent in his country’s narrow 8-7 defeat in the 2011 Rugby World Cup Final. He came on as a replacement for Morgan Parra in the 23rd minute and was quite inspirational in the movement which led to Thierry Dusautoir’s try. The Blues will need to keep a close watch on Monsieur Trinh-Duc.
Mamuka’s riproaring appearances in the Montpellier jersey have been a source of delight to the club’s supporters who revel in his charging, high octane runs. The Georgian international’s impact on a game cannot be overstated where his mental strength, technique and stamina make him a player to be revered and respected. Originally a second-row forward, he was converted to the back-row when Fabien Galthie took over the reins at Montpellier in 2010. He is nicknamed ‘Gorgodzilla’ by his teammates and ‘Gulliver’ by Georgian supporters stemming from his huge frame and rampaging style of play. The French sports newspaper L’Equipe named him as the best foreigner in the league during season 2010/2011.
Tickets for this must win match can be purchased online at www.cardiffblues.com/tickets or by calling 029 20 30 20 30.