This is the end of five years of waiting for the supporters of the club of Ain. After leaving the Top 14 in 2018, Oyonnax is back in the elite of French rugby. It was at the end of the Pro D2 final, and after a lackluster victory against Grenoble, that Oyonnax validated its ticket for the most prestigious France Championship. Ironically, it was Grenoble who had relegated the club in 2018, in the play-off for accession to the Top 14 (47-22).
THEY DID IT! 💪 @oyonnaxrugby is the new France champion of PRO D2! The Ain club is back in @top14rugby after 5 years! 🏆🎉 pic.twitter.com/OHhNq9Djs8
— Rugby PRO D2 (@rugbyprod2) May 27, 2023
The Ain club had announced at the beginning of the season its desire to return to the elite of French rugby, which it had already rubbed shoulders with twice, from 2013 to 2016 and in 2017-2018.
Sure of his strength, he assumed his ambition until the end and it is only fair from a sporting point of view as he has walked on the Pro D2 since August, with 23 wins in 30 matches and 24 points ahead of his runner-up, Grenoble precisely.
Isérois who will have a second chance to rise, next week, on the occasion of a play-off, at home, against the penultimate of the Top 14, Perpignan or Pau.
This Saturday night, the Oyomens won a very closed game (14-3), in front of 19,000 spectators. In the night heat of Ernest-Wallon, the usual den of the Rouge et Noir du Stade Toulousain, the Rouge et Noir d'Oyonnax have long shown an unusual feverishness.
Fortunately for them, their opponent too and it was not until the 35th minute of this arm wrestling punctuated by clumsiness and indiscipline to see the first points: a try from Oyonnaxien scrum-half Charlie Cassang at the end of a long sequence of play.
His second in two weeks after the one already scored against Vannes in a complicated semi-final (26-21) which had served as a "reminder" after a logical relaxation once the qualification was quickly assured. The "Oyomen", whose supporters won in Toulouse the match from the stands, necessarily sparse (12,000 spectators) so far from the Alps, were again scared in the final.
Partly because of the lack of success of their striker Jules Soulan (1 out of 4) and a lack of control in a second half played on the same false rhythm against Grenoble generally harmless. But their defence held firm and winger Aurélien Callandret sent them to the Top 14 with a liberating try at the very end of the match. A consecration for the English manager of Oyonnax Joe El Abd, a disciple of Christophe Urios, whom he had as a coach before becoming the assistant, in Ain and Castres. This is the third time in its history that Oyonnax has won the Pro D2, after its titles in 2013 and 2017. With its 22,000 inhabitants, Oyonnax will next season be the smallest town in the Top 14, in which it will replace another, Brive.