Preview: Top 14, Round 23

Date published: April 7 2017

Five games take place on Saturday before two are on Sunday's schedule as the Top 14 hits Round 23, with La Rochelle leading the way.



La Rochelle v Bordeaux-Bègles
Bayonne v Stade Français
Castres v Lyon
Montpellier v Grenoble
Clermont v Brive


Racing 92 v Pau
Toulon v Toulouse

La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Bègles
Stade Marcel Deflandre, La Rochelle

The league leaders can go 16 points clear at the Top 14 summit, provisionally of course, as they kick-off the round at home to Bordeaux-Bègles.

Currently on a nine-game winning run in the competition, 10 without defeat, this superb season continues for the Stade Marcel Deflandre side.

This week's opponent did beat them however earlier in the season, winning 26-0 in the reverse, which was in fact La Rochelle's last defeat.

UBB are in seventh spot at the moment but do come into the game on the back of a morale-boosting 20-11 win over Toulouse a fortnight ago.

Last year's result: La Rochelle won 22-15
Kick-off: 14:45 local (12:45 GMT)
Referee: Sébastien Minery
Assistant Referees: Laurent Millotte, Thomas Déjean
TMO: Eric Gauzins

Montpellier vs Grenoble
Altrad Stadium, Montpellier

Third meets thirteenth in the table at Altrad Stadium as Montpellier look to strenghthen their play-off place against a struggling Grenoble side.

Montpellier though have been hugely inconsistent of late and haven't posted back-to-back league wins since December, with a recent loss at Brive a hard one to take. It meant they missed a chance to close in on second-placed Clermont. Luckily Toulon and Castres also lost.

Grenoble are now 11 points off the survival places after they picked up a timely win over Castres, which they will hope boosts their confidence.

Last year's result: Montpellier won 51-10
Kick-off: 18:30 local (16:30 GMT)
Referee: Cédric Marchat
Assistant Referees: Laurent Cardona, Laurent Breil
TMO: Pierre Brousset

Castres vs Lyon
Stade Pierre-Antoine, Castres

Still smarting from a recent disappointing defeat at Grenoble, Castres will want to get back to winning ways against Lyon on Saturday.

With other play-off rivals losing, Castres missed a big opportunity to jump above Toulon and also close in on Montpellier and Clermont.

But they must put that defeat to bed as they face a Lyon side coming into the game on the back of a morale-boosting 52-7 win over Bayonne. They scored seven tries in that victory and their supporters will hope it's a sign they'll bring their attacking game to Stade Pierre-Antoine.

Last year's result: Did not play
Kick-off: 18:30 local (16:30 GMT)
Referee: Jérôme Garcès
Assistant Referees: Mathieu Noirot, Thierry Guilloton
TMO: Jean-Marie Piraveau

Bayonne vs Stade Français
Stade Jean Dauger, Bayonne

Last takes on twelfth in the table at Stade Jean Dauger as both Bayonne and Stade Français will have targetted this game for potential points.

Bayonne suffered their fourteenth loss of the season a fortnight ago, going down at Lyon, while Stade Français shocked Toulon 17-11 in Paris.

The hosts are seven points off closest rival Grenoble in the standings, with Stade a further 11 in front but at home it would be foolish to write off Bayonne, even with the visitors winning this clash in December 51-5.

Last year's result: Did not play
Kick-off: 18:30 local (16:30 GMT)
Referee: Salem Attalah
Assistant Referees: Stéphane Boyer, Eric Soulan
TMO: Eric Briquet-Campin

Clermont vs Brive
Stade Marcel-Michelin, Clermont-Ferrand

Clermont will be hoping to consolidate second spot on the table against a Brive side who are still in the hunt for a play-off position.

Although they booked their spot in the Champions Cup semi-finals last weekend, Clermont suffered a narrow 27-24 Top 14 defeat at Racing 92 two weeks ago.

Brive, meanwhile, claimed a late 28-25 triumph over Montpellier in Round 22. Clermont head in to this fixture 11 points adrift of tabletoppers La Rochelle but eight points clear of third-placed Montpellier while Brive are four points off a play-off place.

Last year's result: Clermont won 25-6
Kick-off: 20:45 local (18:45 GMT)
Referee: Romain Poite
Assistant Referees: Adrien Descottes, Sébastien Hebert
TMO: Arnaud Blondel

Racing vs Pau
Stade Yves Du Manoir, Colombes

Defending champions Racing know they simply have to win this clash if they want to stand a chance of reaching the play-offs. 

That is easier said than though as they are currently in eighth place with Pau two places above them on the table in that crucial sixth position. 

Racing head into this clash after notching that crucial win over Clermont two weeks ago and Pau suffered a 23-13 loss to high-riding La Rochelle in their Round 22 clash.

Last year's result: Racing won 43-13
Kick-off: 12:30 local (10:30 GMT)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal
Assistant Referees: Julien Castaignède, Jean-Luc Rebollal
TMO: Patrick Péchambert

Toulon vs Toulouse
Stade Vélodrome, Marseille

Both these sides have battled in the competition in recent weeks and are desperate for victory to strengthen their play-off chances.

Toulon suffered a defeat to Clermont and Toulouse lost to Munster which ended both these sides' Champions Cup hopes at the quarter-final stage whicg givs them the chance to focus on their Top 14 aspirations.

Fourth-placed Toulon will be favourites as they are at home and Toulouse are languishing in 10th position albeit it only six points adrift of their hosts.

Toulon lost to Stade Français (17-11) and drew with Grenoble (23-23) in their two previous Top 14 matches while Toulouse lost to Bordeaux-Bègles (20-11) and beat Lyon (42-26) in their last two fixtures.

Last year's result: Toulouse won 12-10
Kick-off: 17:00 local (15:00 GMT)
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz
Assistant Referees: Thomas Charabas, Jean-Claude Labarbe
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure