Victor Vito performs well with new team La Rochelle

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La Rochelle's New Zealander flanker Victor Vito runs with the ball during the French Top 14 rugby union match La Rochelle vs Lyon on September 10, 2016 at the Marcel Deflandre stadium in La Rochelle. / AFP / XAVIER LEOTY (Photo credit should read XAVIER LEOTY/AFP/Getty Images)

From Last Word on Rugby, Joshua Bradham

Former All Black Victor Vito performs up to expectation for La Rochelle in first Top 14 start

Victor Vito, the All Black forward announced his contract with La Rochelle last spring. Victor Vito took the traditional trip to the Super Rugby retirement home of Europe. His 33 test caps for the All Blacks and amazing play for the Crusaders have established him as one of the elite flankers in rugby. Victor Vito made his debut last week for La Rochelle, when they took on Castres Olympique. His first start against Lyon this past week was very impressive as his experience helped lead La Rochelle to a bonus point win.

It is still too early to say how Victor Vito will contribute to the Top 14. Once he starts scoring tries, his stock in the Top 14 will go up very quickly.

La Rochelle seems to have improved since the start of the 2016 season.

La Rochelle seems to be playing in a completely different world from their ninth place performance of last year. Although the entire Top 14 seems to be slightly askew from expectations at the beginning of the year, La Rochelle and Toulon are the most notable. Last year La Rochelle lost their opener to Clermont 6-44. This year in the same scenario, in the same location La Rochelle is able to pull off a draw against the Top 14 semi finalists.  Bottom half match ups dominate the majority of La Rochelle’s schedule, and is helped by their more difficult matches of the fall come during International play. This will leave many of their opponents weakened by the needs of the French national team. This will leave the true strength of the team unknown for a long time.  La Rochelle has built an improved offensive performance as compared to last year. None of their first four games have left La Rochelle with less than 20 points.

A Definitive pattern does not exist after four games, but La Rochelle’s schedule supports a good run through the season. La Rochelle will be tested against Brive this weekend in their third road game of the season. Brive has had a mixed start to their season. With wins over both Toulon away, and Stade Francais at home, things have looked good. A draw against Lyon, and a loss to Grenoble has left their future unknown. The island of misfit toys is looking to improve their performance this year over their traditional mid tier finish. This game should prove which team is making true strides, and which is simply off to a good start.

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