Toulouse aiming for double after Top 14 final round

Toulouse aiming for double after Top 14 final round

Stade Toulousain are the team to beat following the conclusion of the Top 14 final round. After 26 rounds of almost non-stop action, the Champions Cup winners finished top of the league and will be looking to win their 21st Bouclier des Brennus. 

Big clashes ahead in the Play-off games

The regular season is now over but there is still plenty of action to come. First, the sides who finished third to sixth will play in the Barrages, or quarter-finals. The top two, Toulouse and La Rochelle, get automatic spots in the semi-finals and await the Barrages winners.

La Rochelle, who will want to bounce back from their Champions Cup final defeat, will face Racing 92 or Stade Francais. A perhaps surprising knockout Parisian derby, given Stade’s struggles during the abandoned 2019/20 season. Racing, who finished third only on points difference, will fancy their chances. However, despite all their talent, knockout games have been their problem, particularly in Europe.

Meanwhile, Bordeaux-Begles and Clermont Auvergne will fight for the right to play Toulouse, the team that knocked both of them out of Europe.

Basque derby for Top 14 place

At the other end of the table, woeful Agen drop into Pro D2, something confirmed long ago. They will be replaced by Perpignan. After another defeat in the Top 14 final round, they became the first club to lose every single match. And they weren’t just unlucky. Their average match score was a 42-12 defeat, and the league’s top scorer Benjamin Urdapilleta scored six more points than Agen.

However to decide the second promotion/relegation spot, there will be a very tasty Basque derby between Biarritz and Bayonne in the Access Match play-off. Pau’s 41-25 final day win against Montpellier lifted them out of 13th place and leaves Bayonne to travel to their not-so-dear neighbours.  The video below gives an idea of how the two treat each other:

Biarritz, will be desperate to return to the Top 14 where they have not resided since 2014. Beyond top-flight survival, there could not be any greater motivation for Bayonne to consign their rivals to another year in Pro D2.

Drama set to continue after Top 14 final round

Based purely on the table ranking, a repeat of this season’s Champions Cup final seems likely. But there were only 11 points between first and sixth, and only three between the top placed teams. The Barrages games start this weekend, and that will settle the opportunities for those ‘knocking on the door’ of a French Top 14 final place.

Follow all the action, comment on this article below, and add to the conversation here on Last Word on Rugby as the 2020/21 Top 14 final is scheduled for the Stade de France on Friday, June 25 (tbc).

 

Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images


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