Top 14 Preview: Final Round

Date published: May 2 2014

Everything is still to play for on the final day of the Top 14 regular season with high-stakes clashes at both ends of the table.

Everything is still to play for as the Top 14 reaches the final day of the regular season with high-stakes clashes at both ends of the table this weekend.

Who will finish top? Who will qualify automatically for the semi-finals? Who will host play-offs next week? Who will be relegated along with Biarritz? Who will finish seventh and potentially earn a place in Europe?

All these questions will be answered on Saturday.

Perpignan face a near-impossible task to avoid their first relegation since 1911. USAP are currently second from bottom but level with Oyonnax and Bayonne. Perhaps their best bet of survival, though, does not even depend on them. If Perpignan don't pull off a miracle win at Clermont, they could still survive if Oyonnax get a result in Brive while Bayonne lose badly at home to Castres.

A complicated tiebreakers system means that if Perpignan finish level with only Bayonne, they would actually stay up on a better head-to-head game points difference.

Oyonnax have probably the easiest tie away to Brive, one of only two teams with nothing to play for this weekend.

Elsewhere it is all about final play-off positions.

Stade Français are just outside the play-off berths but level on points with sixth-placed Toulouse. However, the Parisians face a daunting trip to leaders Toulon while the four-time European champions are at home to Grenoble.

If both Stade Français and Toulouse win then defending champions Castres could miss out on a top six spot with a defeat at Bayonne.

A draw would be enough for Toulon to secure top spot while second-placed Montpellier host fourth-placed Racing-Metro in arguably the game of the weekend.

The top two get a direct ticket into the semi-finals while the third and fourth placed finishers host fifth and sixth in the quarter-final play-offs next week.


Saturday, May 3 All kick off at 14:45 local (12:45 GMT)
Clermont v Perpignan
Bayonne v Castres
Bordeaux-Bègles v Biarritz
Brive v Oyonnax
Montpellier v Racing Métro
Toulon v Stade Français
Toulouse v Grenoble

1 Toulon 74
2 Montpellier 71
3 Clermont 69
4 Racing Metro 69
5 Castres 66
6 Toulouse 64
7 Stade Français 64
8 Bordeaux-Begles 59
9 Brive 57
10 Grenoble 53
11 Bayonne 50
12 Oyonnax 50
13 Perpignan 50
14 Biarritz 30


ASM Clermont Auvergne v USA Perpignan
Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin, Clermont Ferrand

The task is mammoth for 2009 champions Perpignan if they hope to avoid relegation for the first time in over 100 years.

Apart from the home side's 76-game unbeaten home record, USAP won have in Clermont just once in 35 years and 20 attempts, back in 2006.

It's been a huge fall from grace for Perpignan. Since the professional era began in 1995, the Catalans have more often been fighting for titles than staving off relegation.

Yet flanker Bertrand Guiry believes in miracles.

“If there's a group that can do it then maybe it's one like ours, a team that is wounded, with guys who want revenge,” said Guiry.

“It would be a miracle if we managed it but we just have to not ask ourselves any questions and show great commitment. It's a game in which every individual must play his best match of the season.”

The problem for Perpignan is that they come into this match in dreadful form, low on confidence and with key players such as France lock Sebastien Vahaamahina and Samoa flanker Daniel Leo out injured.

Apart from already-relegated Biarritz, the Catalans have the worst record in the Top 14 over the second half of the season and their last three away matches have seen them ship 110 points.

A losing bonus point could be worth gold depending on results elsewhere.

As long as neither Bayonne nor Perpignan earn a losing bonus point, that would leave them level on points and competition points between them, but with Perpignan slightly ahead on match points between the pair having won 20-8 when they met in Catalonia but lost 31-20 from their clash in the Basque Country – giving them a 40-39 aggregate advantage.

Don't expect any favours from Clermont, who are smarting from a terrible performance in the Heineken Cup semi-final against Saracens at Twickenham.

Damien Chouly and Aurélien Rougerie are all doubts, while Fritz Lee, Julien Bonnaire, Daniel Kotze and Lee Byrne have been ruled out.

Previous result Clermont won 30-23
Referee: Cyril Lafon

Aviron Bayonnais v Castres Olympique
Stade Jean Dauger, Bayonne

Another game with two sides under massive pressure. If both Stade Français and Toulouse win then Castres could miss out on a top six spot with a defeat at Bayonne, who are taking their fight for survival to the bitter end…once again.

The Basques have become experts at missing the drop by the skin of their teeth but should keep their place in the top division.

Castres have picked up just one win and one draw on the road this term but are gunning for a home play-off so will not lack from motivation.

Bayonne are in positive mood having beaten Stade Français before snatching a draw in Grenoble last time out. They have named an unchanged matchday squad with Neemia Tialata having overcome a back injury.

Castres are without Romain Martial, Karena Wihongi, Benjamin Desroche and Geoffrey Palis but welcome back Anton Peikrishvili.

Result in Round 13: Castrescwon 46-16
Referee:Jérôme Garcès

Union Bordeaux-Bègles v Biarritz Olympique
Stade Jacques Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux

UBB have a massive carrot as a bonus-point win could be enough to earn a play-off against an English club for a European berth, assuming Toulon beat Stade Français.

Dimitri Yachvili is an injury absentee, meaning he has played his final game for Biarritz.

Result in Round 13: Bordeaux-Bègles won 22-15
Referee: Patrick Pechambert

CA Brive-Corrèze v US Oyonnax
Stade Amédée-Domenech, Brive-la-Gaillarde

It's likely to be a festive occasion in Brive as not since 2007 have both clubs promoted to the Top 14 stayed up.

Oyonnax have not been great on the road but their chances of avoiding the drop will no doubt be helped by the fact that Brive have nothing to play for.

Oyonnax lost by a single point on their last visit to Brive, in the ProD2 last season, but a losing bonus point is likely to be enough for l'USO to defy the pre-season odds and secure their survival

Result in Round 13: Oyonnax won 26-9
Referee:Sébastien Minery

Montpellier Hérault Rugby v Racing Métro 92
Stade Yves Du Manoir, Montpellier

The two in-form clubs in France face off. Direct qualification into the semi-finals