USA flanker/lock Scott LaValla has been moving around a little bit with his club, Stade Francais, but the key thing for him is that the Parisien club keeps winning.
Stade beat I Cavalieri Prato 31-3 last weekend in Amlin Challenge Cup action, and as they sit at 4-1 in Pool 5, they have just one more game to play to secure a place in the quarterfinals. That game comes against 0-5 Lusitanos of Portugal. Tied with Stade at the top of Pool 5is London Irish, which plays Cavalieri.
Both are expected to secure bonus-point victories, and so should be tied on points at the end of pool play. So it comes down to the head-to-head tiebreaker, and in the two matches between Stade Francais and London Irish, Stade got a bonus point for four tries in their victory, and thus took 5 points from the two games, while London Irish took 4, giving Stade the upper hand.
For LaValla, who slotted in at #6 last weekend instead of his usual #7, that’s all that matters.
“The game [against I Cavalieri] went well considering the amount of changes we had made to the lineup going into it, but we managed to get the bonus point that will help insure a home quarterfinal,” he told RUGBYMag.com.
As for moving around in the back row? It actually doesn’t matter, as the players kind of move around during the game, anyway.
“It usually depends the composition of the back row, more than the jersey,” said LaValla. “With a couple of the guys, I'll play on the right side simply because they've bad left shoulders and can't push on that side of the scrum. With another, I'll play left because he's a bad right shoulder. Sometimes we agree the week of to just go left and right amongst ourselves. This last week, I played openside off the scrum. So responsibilities vary depending more on personnel than which jersey we're given, and on this team it's worked out amongst the players more than dictated by the coaches. Barring one guy, I wouldn't say we have any real out-and-out opensides vs. blindsides, and that's down to the profile of back rows that we have here.”
LaValla will likely be in the lineup again this week as European pool play ends, and then it’s back to Top 14 league games until mid-March, when he and the other overseas pros will join the USA team for the World Cup Qualifiers in Montevideo and Atlanta.