French Top 14

Five Talking Points From Round 26 Of The French Top 14

Five Talking Points From Round 26 Of The French Top 14

The final round of the regular season for the French Top 14 Club Rugby competition came to a close with Toulouse finishing in first position on the table.

May 29, 2023
Five Talking Points From Round 26 Of The French Top 14

After 26 enthralling rounds of Top 14 action, the regular season has drawn to a close. It’s been a fascinating campaign, which saw last season’s finalists Montpellier and Castres both struggle while newcomers Bayonne surprised everyone with their competitive edge.

Unsurprisingly, Toulouse and La Rochelle closed out the weekend with wins, sending them automatically through to the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, Lyon were the only team remaining in the top six that won, as Racing, Bordeaux and Stade Francais all suffered defeats ahead of their quarter-final clashes next weekend.

Toulouse Trounce Brive As Relegation Is Confirmed

Brive were already relegated heading into their final game of the season, but that didn’t detract from the overarching meaning of the clash.

It was a chance at minor redemption, a shot at showing that they were still a force to be reckoned with, and yet the men in black and white faltered at every point against arguably the best team in the league.

From the off, Brive looked flustered and dejected, battling helplessly to stay within sight of a game they had no right to be in.

Within the first forty minutes, they were so bereft of creativity and tenacity that they succumbed to a 35-3 halftime deficit.

It didn’t get much better in the second half as the travellers concede further ground, though they did manage to score a try of their own in the second period as Arthur Bonneval crossed over to give Brive fans something to cheer. 

But in the end, it was a day to forget for the visitors as they concluded their Top 14 stint with a 54-10 loss in Toulouse. The hosts, meanwhile, happily secured their position atop the league, earning them a bye-week in the playoffs.

La Rochelle will also have a week off following their 14-10 win over Stade Francais, putting them three points behind Toulouse in the table.


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Lyon Obliterates Bayonne To Secure Playoff Spot

Lyon put in a clinical performance to topple Bayonne 53-19 and secure their place in the Top 14 playoffs.

Heading into the weekend, Lyon were on the fringes of playoff contention, but after their seven-try demolition of Bayonne, the southerners soared up to third in the table and will now have home advantage against Bordeaux Bègles in the quarter-finals.

It’s been a turbulent last few months for Lyon, as they originally looked in sight of the playoffs, only for a poor run of form at the end of the season to pull them back into the mix.

However, they have now secured their spot and will be a tough opponent to face, riding high off their performance against Bayonne.

Clermont Stifle Racing 92 To End Season On A High

Clermont closed out a disappointing year with a 32-25 win at home to Racing 92.

It was an entirely enthralling contest, which remained closely poised right to the death. It was all square at half time, with the score reading 17-17, and in the end, two tries each for Alivereti Raka and George Moala proved the difference between the sides, as Clermont pulled away with the win.

They finished the season in tenth and will hope they can be better next time around, while Racing dropped down to fifth in the table, meaning they will now be hosted by Stade Francais in the quarter-finals of the playoffs.

Pau turn on the quality to topple Montpellier and avoid relegation

Following a challenging few months, Pau ended things on a positive note with a comprehensive 35-10 beating of Montpellier at home.

Much of the heavy lifting was done in the first period when Pau stormed to a 28-3 lead before the break.

Of the five tries scored, one was converted by a new kid on the block Émilien Gailleton, who ends the regular season as the top try scorer in the league with 14.

Evidently, there’s enough talent in this Pau team to progress further, but for now, they will have to be content with their 12th-placed finish, only two points shy of Montpellier, who have closed out their title defence with a whimper.

It’s been a strange old campaign for the reigning champions, as they failed to return to the playoffs. This summer should give them time to regroup and recharge following a disappointing year in the Top 14.

Meanwhile, Castres beat Perpignan 26-16 to send the Basque club to their second relegation playoff scrap in as many years.

Toulon give Parisse a fitting farewell

Toulon made sure Sergio Parisse’s final ever competitive rugby game was a fitting sending by beating Bordeaux Bègles 35-19 at the Stade Mayol.

Indeed the hosts blitzed Bordeaux from the off, balancing power in the midfield with agility and pace out wide. In the end, it was all too much for the visitors to handle.

Parisse’s send-off obviously took centre stage for Toulon, though the side’s Challenge Cup win against Glasgow Warriors last weekend was the true highlight.

They were already out of playoff contention heading into the weekend but ended up finishing seventh in the table, incidentally, just two points behind Bordeaux, meaning they will now have to watch their most recent opponents take on Lyon in the quarter-finals next weekend.

After the way in which they started the season, just being in contention was a win, but you feel Toulon will feel they missed a beat in the end.