Thomas Ramos inspired Toulouse to a 26-17 win over La Rochelle as he looks to secure his starting berth in the full-back jersey for France.
Ramos scored all 26 points in Toulouse’s win over the European champions to give France head coach Fabien Galthié a beacon of hope following another weekend full of injury blows.
Ramos, who has been thriving at fly-half for Toulouse, is favourite to be France’s No.15 this Autumn following injuries to both Melvyn Jaminet and now Romain Buros, so his form will have given Galthié a smile in an otherwise difficult time.
Prop Jean-Baptiste Gros broke his arm playing in Toulon’s win over Castres, adding to a growing injury crisis at loosehead with Cyril Baille out, and Redi Wardi’s red card for La Rochelle creating further problems in that department.
Clément Castets has been called into the squad, as has fellow prop Jérôme Rey, while in place of Buros, young Louis Le Brun is brought in alongside Thomas Jolmès who replaces injured second row Florian Verhaeghe.
It was not all doom and gloom for France and Galthié though, as Damian Penaud scored in Clermont’s 23-23 draw with Bordeaux-Bègles, with fly-half Matthieu Jalibert kicking 13 points as he looks to try to nail down a starting spot for Les Bleus.
The big news last week was that Scotland fly-half Finn Russell was not selected for the Autumn Nations Series, and he responded with a formidable display in Paris, scoring 18 points in Racing 92’s 38-31 victory over Montpellier.
And he was not the only Scotland fly-half in scintillating form at the weekend, with Gloucester’s Adam Hastings stealing a 22-21 win over London Irish with an audacious drop goal from inside his own half in the Gallagher Premiership.
It was a frustrating match for England head coach Eddie Jones however, with Jonny May suffering a nasty looking elbow injury and Henry Arundell also forced off injured.
Those injuries were compounded further when, on Saturday, Owen Farrell went off with a head injury, which may well see him ruled out for England’s opening matches, but the player of the match performance of Maro Itoje and Mako Vunipola’s incredible effort in the scrum may have slightly helped Jones’ frustration.
And he will have certainly be buoyed by Marcus Smith inspiring Harlequins to an impressive 29-13 win over the previously unbeaten Sale Sharks, with Smith finishing off a well-worked team try, creating the first score with a world class grubber and immaculately kicking 19 points from the tee to earn player of the match.
With Farrell, Arundell and May not fit to train, Jones has called up Henry Slade, Adam Radwan and Tom Roebuck into the squad for their training camp in Jersey.
In the United Rugby Championship, there will have been worry too for Wales head coach Wayne Pivac, who is already without skipper Dan Biggar.
He will now be even more concerned after fresh injuries to Ospreys duo Dewi Lake and George North, with the shoulder injury to Lake particularly concerning.
It will be a race against time for them to get fit ahead of Wales’ opening Autumn Nations Series clash with New Zealand on November 5.
There were some positives to take for Pivac though, with Rio Dyer, called up to the Wales squad for the first time, scoring two tries in the Dragons 32-25 win over the Ospreys, with Aaron Wainwright also scoring for the Dragons at Rodney Parade.
And in the absence of Biggar, it will likely be Rhys Priestland who starts at fly-half against the All Blacks, and he was in sublime form as Cardiff beat defending champions the Stormers – scoring 20 points.
There were positives for Andy Farrell and Ireland too, as Mack Hansen scored twice in Connacht’s 36-14 win over the Scarlets, while in an all-Irish affair between Leinster and Munster, hooker Dan Sheehan crossed for an all-important try as Leinster won 27-13.