Eben Etzebeth starts at flank for Toulon in Stade Francais win, Cheslin Kolbe back


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

Argentina fly-half Nicholas Sanchez got a red card on the stroke of half-time after making contact with the head of the hosts’ Baptiste Serin at a ruck.

“Obviously it didn’t help us, he showed his aggressiveness. We can’t hold it against him. It’s annoying because it’s hard at 14 against 15,” said the Parisians’ France centre Gael Fickou.

“They took their chances, they scored points, they were clinical.”

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

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

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.

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

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