Etzebeth makes back-row debut as Toulon rise to third with Stade Francais win

·2 min read
Eben Etzebeth (L) joined Toulon after winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup

South Africa's Rugby World Cup winner Eben Etzebeth started the first game of his career at blindside flanker in Toulon's 35-13 victory at home over 14-man Stade Francais on Sunday.

Argentina fly-half Nicholas Sanchez was shown a red card on the stroke of half-time after making contact with the head of the home side's Baptiste Serin at a ruck.

The three-time European champions climbed up to third place as the visitors remain in eighth, five points away from the play-offs.

Etzebeth was moved from lock by the hosts' coach Patrice Collazo minutes before kick-off as Swann Rebbadj pulled out in the warm-up.

The Parisians' coach Gonzalo Quesada made 10 alterations from the loss at Toulouse earlier this month.

Collazo's men led 15-6 just after the half-hour mark as Nonu's fellow ex-All Black Isaia Toeava and France fly-half Louis Carbonel crossed.

An apologetic Sanchez was sent off in the final play of the half after his shoulder made contact with Serin's head while attempting to make a clear out at a breakdown.

Carbonel added to his account for proceedings with the resulting penalty and his side led 18-6 at the interval.

During the first half France captain Charles Ollivon left the field and failed a head injury assessment after a collision with opposition back-rower Antoine Burban.

Collazo's side made the most of the one-man advantage and claimed a bonus point in the second half thanks to tries from hooker Christopher Tolofua and winger Bryce Heem.

Lester Etien claimed his seventh try of the season with a consolation effort for the capital city club before Etzebeth completed the full 80 minutes on his 20th appearance for Toulon.

- Kolbe back -

Earlier, former New Zealand back-rower Luke Whitelock scored his first Pau try in the 32-27 loss to Brive.

On Saturday, Etzebeth's fellow World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe made his injury return as Toulouse moved back to the top of the table with a 59-0 hammering at bottom side Agen.

Earlier, France centre Virimi Vakatawa suffered a knee injury in Racing 92's 33-32 defeat to Bordeaux-Begles and was replaced in the Six Nations squad by Lyon's 22-year-old midfielder Pierre-Louis Barassi.

Reports claimed Vakatawa will be out for at least a month and will miss next week's training camp in Nice.