Agen come up as Champions of Pro D2, returning to the elite level after an absence of three years. Alain Tingaud, Agen's chairman, hopes now to stabilise the team here. A good start is essential.
Full club name: Sporting Union Agen Lot-et-Garonne Founded: 1908 Stadium: Stade Alfred Armandie President: Alain Tingaud Coaches: Christian Lanta - Christophe Deylaud 2010 finish: Champions of Pro D2 Titles: 8
The last two champions of Pro D2 (Toulon and Racing-Metro) have stayed up with ease in the Top 14. Although that is a good omen, Agen do not have nearly the same budget. The club is putting its trust in youth rather than veterans in the battle to avoid relegation, as well as the contribution of foreign players. The start in the championship is vital, with games against tough opponents straight away. "We will play for our very future in the first four months," said coach Christian Lanta. Three wins in as many friendlies confirmed that the preparations for Agen have been good - but the hard work begins here.
The star: Rupeni Caucaunibuca
After three years of purgatory in Pro D2, 'Caucau' should make his return to the Top 14 - though he has still yet to return from his extended holiday, something of a habit for the Fijian. Agen has decided to temporarily suspend him and he will miss the club's first few matches, but they will need his power, a formidable weapon which made Caucaunibuca the best player in the championship in 2005-06. Agen and Rupeni have a turbulent relationship. The fans still love him, but the question is whether Alain Tingaud will accept his behaviour.
The player to follow: Valentin Courrent
After spells at Toulouse and Biarritz he has decided to try to revive Agen's fortunes. His opponent for the fly-half jersey is Conrad Bernard - and they will be in competition, given Courrent's disinclination to play at scrum-half. "I really want to set myself at fly-half," explained the player. He is the only man to have won both the English Premiership and the Top 14, so he brings huge experience despite being just 27.
The painful departure: Anton Peikrishvili
The Agen pack will miss the Georgian international prop. He played 18 times last season, scoring two tries. The lure of Heineken Cup rugby has seen him join Castres. Unfortunately for him, though, he has damaged his knee during a friendly against Colomiers and will miss the start of the season.