USA prop David Ainuu is on the bench for Toulouse as the French Top 14 club returns to league play after the Heineken Cup break.
Toulouse has been dominant in the Top 14—as much as you can be in this brutal 26-game league. As we go into the last six games, Toulouse is seven points (almost two games) clear of 2nd-place Clermont and boasts a glittering 16-2-2 record.
The club needs just one standings point in the final six games to clinch a playoff spot. Ainuu, who is from Olympia, WA and played for the Prairie and Liberty Patriots HS teams, Eagle Impact Rugby Academy, and the HS All Americans before signing with Toulouse, is still only 19 years old.
In September he extended his deal with Toulouse for three seasons, and has jumped from academy player to a real threat to get a start. He got his first two starts for the USA this past March against Uruguay and Canada. His first cap, on November 10 against Samoa, made him the second-youngest Eagle ever, behind Titi Lamositele (18 years, 355 days old, versus, for Lamositele, 18 years, 188 days old).
(Ainuu didn't play in the recent Heineken Champions Cup quarterfinals, but he's here celebrating with his clubmates, in the snazzy white sneakers.)
Toulouse will face Toulon, which continues to struggle with turmoil on and off the field. Julian Savea is on the bench for Toulon, as is the king of Georgian rugby, Mamuka Gorgodze.
Kickoff is Saturday, April 6 at 10:45AM ET, and is live for USA subscribers of FloRugby.
Meanwhile, 2nd-place Clermont will have a very difficult Sunday clash with Racing 92 in a game of 2nd vs 4th. Both teams want to secure a playoff spot (the top six make the playoffs, with 1st and 2nd getting a bye to the semis).
Clermont has the bye almost sewn up, with 69 points in the standings, ahead of Lyon and Racing (both with 56). With by far the most potent offense in the league, Clermont should have little trouble racking up the bonus points to ensure that bye.
The chase for the other playoff spots is between Lyon, Racing 92, Castres, Bordeaux, La Rochelle, and Stade Francais. Bordeaux will start USA lock Greg Peterson on Saturday. Peterson has been in excellent form this season, ramping up his physicality, but in a disciplined way.