Top 14’s Bourgoin agree pay cuts

Players and coaches with French crisis club Bourgoin agreed on Friday to accept massive pay cuts in exchange for a desperately-needed cash injection which would help keep the side afloat.

The drastic measures, which would see salary cuts between 15- and 18-percent, were demanded in exchange for former president Gaston Maulin declaring himself ready to pour 700,000 euros into Bourgoin’s empty coffers.

Friday’s announcement came just days after a proposed rescue package by GL Events collapsed.

“The staff and players of Bourgoin, supported by Gaston Maulin, have decided on this in the interests of the cluib,” said coach Eric Catinot.

Bourgoin, who launched the careers of current French skipper Lionel Nallet as well as Sebastien Chabal, have debts of around two million euros.

They were European Challenge Cup runners-up last season but currently prop up the French Top 14 table ahead of Saturday’s visit of Biarritz.

Meanwhile, former All Blacks fly-half Andrew Mehrtens admits he’d relish another golden age for Racing-Metro, the French glamour club who once trained to the tunes of Glenn Miller and sipped champagne in the dressing rooms.

Mehrtens, who won 70 caps with New Zealand, is part of the revolution at the Paris club who were promoted to the top flight this season and now boast the talents of Nallet and Chabal.

“I’d love to have taken part in such an adventure. It’s so French. These guys combined excellence on the pitch with a love of life. This flamboyance is part of our heritage,” said Mehrtens.

Racing were known as the “Showbizz” club in the 1980s when former centre Eric Blanc warmed up to Glenn Miller’s classic tune In the Mood and where champagne, rather than energy drinks, was the order of the day.

On the pitch, the team insisted on running and passing the ball, never opting for safety first.

However, club skipper Nallet insists that the team should not get too misty-eyed about the past with the demands of the tough, professional era vital to the team’s existence in the Top14.

So far, Racing have a win and one defeat to show for their efforts and tackle Bayonne on Saturday at their historic Stade Colombes home, the site of the 1924 Paris Olympics.

“Racing enjoyed a great period, full stop,” said Nallet. “Today we are writing another chapter in the story.” Defending champions Perpignan, who suffered a shock loss to Montpellier last weekend, tackle former European champions Toulouse on Saturday.

Stade Francais, still waiting for their opening win of the season, tackle Montpellier and have reportedly been in talks with former Wallabies winger Lote Tuqiri.

On Saturday, Stade are likely to be without the three players who have been told to stay away from the club for seven days after being diagnosed with swine flu.

The match between Montauban and Castres was postponed on Friday six players with Castres were also diagnosed with the virus.

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