Planet Rugby

Top 14 Preview: Round Thirteen

03rd December 2010 08:23

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Two people jogging by Eiffel Tower

Not exempt from the cold: France

Club rugby is back this week following what's been a five-week break, with big ties set for Toulon, Clermont and Paris, weather permitting of course.

Top 14 action will be a welcome relief for French supporters following their country's forgetful Test series and what a couple of domestic days it promises to be. The snowy captial will host a mouth-watering derby where Racing-Metro host Stade Francais go toe-to-toe before pace-setters Toulouse travel north to face les Jaunards.

There is also a vital game taking place at Stade Amédée Domenech as twelfth meets thirteenth when Brive entertain Agen.

But the round all kicks-off on Friday as Montpellier, who find themselves in second spot going into week thirteen, face a daunting trip to Toulon.

Fixtures:

Friday, December 3

Toulon vs Montpellier

Saturday, December 4

Brive v Agen
Bayonne v La Rochelle
Bourgoin v Biarritz
Castres v Perpignan
Racing Metro v Stade Francais
Clermont v Toulouse

Standings:

1. Toulouse 42
2. Montpellier 41
3. Racing Metro 35
4. Biarritz 33
5. Toulon 32
6. Castres 31
7. Clermont Auvergne 30
8. Perpignan 28
9. Stade Francais 28
10. Bayonne 24
11. La Rochelle 19
12. Brive 19
13. Agen 15
14. Bourgoin 10

Previews:

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Toulon vs Montpellier
Stade Felix Mayol, Toulon

Fifth is set to take on second and with reports this week suggesting that Mourad Boudjellal is hunting Wallabies Adam Ashley-Cooper, Drew Mitchell and James O'Connor for next season, there is something extra thrown into the mix on Friday.

Toulon will welcome back Argentina international Felipe Contepomi but he only takes a spot on the bench as Jonny Wilkinson and Mafileo Kefu fill the 10-12 slot.

Up front and Philippe Saint-André, who signed a new contract this week, has gone for Laurent Emmanuelli, Sébastien Bruno and Carl Hayman while Joe van Niekerk leads from eight in a back-row that includes former Australia great George Smith.

Montpol back-row forward Fulgence Ouedraogo will also be extremely keen to put in a strong performance after his in-and-out spell with the French set-up during November. Timoci Nagusa and Francois Trinh-Duc are ruled out due to international and injury reasons respectively. Benjamin Thiéry returns to action.

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Brive vs Agen
Stade Amédée Domenech, Brive

It will be exactly one month since Brive were taken apart in Montpellier by 35 points to 9 away from home, which means they'll be keen to take out their anger on Agen.

However, their visitors on Saturday will by no means be slouches despite being just one place off the bottom right now. They beat Racing-Metro last time out...

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Bayonne v La Rochelle
Stade Jean Dauger, Bayonne

Travelling conditions could become a big factor as to whether this fixture gets the go-ahead as almost 300km separates Bayonne from La Rochelle, with the latter struggling to train outside this week after 20cm of snow fell overnight.

If the game does happen at Stade Jean Dauger, the home side will be looking for a clinical performance that would see them move level on points with Perpignan and Stade Francais in eighth position, should the bigger-named duo lose that is.

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Bourgoin v Biarritz
Stade Pierre Rajon, Bourgoin

Rescheduled to Sunday until further notice...

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Castres v Perpignan
Stade Pierre Antoine, Castres

USAP have been boosted by the return of Olivier Olibeau, Rimas Alvarez-Kairélis, Grégory Corvec, Henry Tuilagi, Kevin Boulogne, Farid Sid, Charles Geli and Maxime Mermoz for the clash. The Catalans will be eager for a victory whilst also depriving Castres of any points, which would see them move above their hosts.

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Racing Metro v Stade Francais
Stade Yves Du Manoir - Colombes (Paris)

In what is arguably the biggest game of Round 13, all eyes in Paris will be on these two as ninth-placed Stade Francais make the short trip to their third-placed hosts.

Pierre Berbizier has been boosted by the return of international stars Sebastien Chabal, Mirco Bergamasco, Benjamin Fall and Frans Steyn while Pumas fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez is also named in the 25-man squad. Racing do, however, remain without experienced second-row forward Lionel Nallet for the meeting.

In other news, Paris was treated to a day with Dan Carter, Mils Muliaina, Conrad Smith, Richie McCaw and Sam Whitelock this week as Mathieu Bastareaud, Dimitri Szarzewski and James Haskell joined up with the quintet for an advertising shoot for Adidas.

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Clermont v Toulouse
Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin, Clermont Ferrand

Despite rumours that Stade Francais are hunting the signature of veteran All Blacks scrum-half Byron Kelleher, league leaders Toulouse confirmed some more positive news this week when Yann David, Yoann Maestri and Yohan Montès all put pen to paper on new contracts ahead of their fixture against the Auvergnians.

Unfortunately though, temperatures have reached as low as -10 °C at the venue and with snow ploughs on the field, things are not looking good for Saturday's late game.

  • Top 14 Fixtures
  • Top 14 Table
Top 14 Table
PosTeamPPts
1Toulon2677
2Montpellier2676
3Clermont Auvergne2673
4Toulouse2669
5Racing Metro Paris2669