Revenge clash: Toulouse and La Rochelle to meet in Top 14 play-offs
TOP 14 SUNDAY WRAP: Castres and Montpellier qualified directly for the Top 14 semifinals on Sunday with defending champions Toulouse and newly-crowned European champions La Rochelle going into the play-offs.
Toulouse and La Rochelle set up a revenge clash of last season’s final with a place in the semifinals in Nice on June 17-18 at stake just like third-placed Bordeaux-Bègles and Racing 92 in sixth.
Racing 92 had to fight to reach the final stages for the 12th consecutive time since the 2009-2010 season, with a 21-16 win over Toulon who paid for indiscipline.
As a result, Toulon finish eighth to miss out on the play-offs.
Toulouse crushed relegated Biarritz 80-7 with a 12-try blitz while La Rochelle edged Lyon 29-26.
Castres confirmed their good form against Pau 26-16 to finish top of the standings, ahead of Montpellier, who lost 15-20 at Clermont but took advantage of Bordeaux-Begles’ 15-22 defeat at Perpignan, to qualify directly for the semifinals.
Clermont, seventh, and Lyon, winner of the European Challenge this season, will compete with the six teams qualified for the final phase in the next edition of the Champions Cup, where South African franchises will feature for the first time.
Meanwhile Perpignan, in 13th, will play for their Top 14 survival against Pro D2 finalist Mont-de-Marsan.
Earlier Bayonne cemented their return to the Top 14 a year after their painful relegation following a dominant 49-20 win at Mont-de-Marsan.
Bayonne’s six tries crushed their rivals who were hit by the sin binning of South African flyhalf Willie Du Plessis after 54 minutes.
French Top 14 results on Sunday:
Clermont 20-15 Montpellier
Lyon 26-29 La Rochelle
Pau 16-16 Castres
Perpignan 22-15 Bordeaux Begles
Racing 92 21-16 Toulon
Stade Francais 17-33 Brive
Toulouse 80-7 Biarritz