Top 14 – Major Reshuffle Towards the End

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It’s all change now as the championship enters the final straits…

Montpellier are now in the lead of the Top 14 with only three games to be played before the play-offs, thanks to a 43 – 27 win against Aviron Bayonnais. Despite the pressure Montpellier have been under, they have really impressed, and with a coach like the former French captain and scrum half, Fabien Galtier who has instilled great ambition to all his payers, the Montpellier team is simply a serious contender for the title.

One day you are at the top and the following you just manage to retain third place; here is the story of ASM Clermont. There was some concern before meeting their next door neighbours this Friday – i.e. CA Brive-Corrèze –
because of their track record of “taking scalps” and winning this season against Toulon, Toulouse and Castres. This has happened again to Clermont. While the score was close with 26-24, it’s still another prize scalp for CA Brive and two places lost in the rankings for AS Clermont.

The other game of the week which focused the attention was Toulon versus Stade Toulousain. Frédéric Michalack scored 27 points against his club de coeur (he was born in Toulouse and spent 18 years there as a player) to help Toulon win 32-28. It was highly intensive and very close. It was also an ideal rehearsal for the two teams for next weekend’s H-Cup matches against the two strong provinces of Munster and Leinster.

Two Parisian teams competed against one another and, in the end, Racing Métro demonstrated strength and patience to win the game 32-22, with the bonus point thanks to Johnny Sexton, and to now stand in fifth place. This might give Johnny the incentive to remain in Paris as the next coming three look very promising for his team.

The other excellent result came from l’Union Bordeaux-Bègles with a 23-5 win over Perpignan. The players of the well-known former French captain and hooker Raphaël Ibañez – now coach of the newly promoted UBB can remain very hopeful to qualify for the play-offs.

Biarritz Olympique has nothing any more at stake this season, except their pride. This is why the BO fought so hard to manage to draw against the title holder Castres Olympique. While, it is not worrying for the overall
ranking, the CA has to learn from this defeat if they wish to retain their title. It was not a win but fair play to the BO’s players who will be “fighting” for their pride for the coming three games.

Oyannax came through undefeated this weekend again and can still remain hopeful. Oyonnax hammered Grenoble with a 40-13 scoreline and with another game to be played, they remain serious contenders to remain in the Top 14 next season. However, it was a bad outcome for Grenoble and Montpellier to be played next week, Grenoble can only feel sorry for not having done any better this weekend.

Top 14 Standings – Day 23

Pos Team Total Points Bonus Points Played Won Draw Lost For Against Pts Diff
1 Montpellier 66 12 23 13 1 9 575 463 112
2 Toulon 65 11 23 13 1 9 575 400 175
3 Clermont 65 11 23 13 1 9 605 445 160
4 Castres 62 10 23 12 2 9 521 427 94
5 Racing Métro 60 4 23 13 2 8 390 391 -1
6 Toulouse 58 12 23 11 1 11 475 406 69
7 Union Bordeaux-Bègles 58 10 22 12 0 19 520 468 52
8 Stade Français 58 4 23 13 1 9 458 432 26
9 Brive 55 11 23 10 2 11 432 424 8
10 Grenoble 50 4 23 11 1 11 406 530 -124
11 Perpignan 46 8 23 9 1 13 411 510 -99
12 Bayonne 44 8 23 9 0 14 356 496 -140
13 Oyannax 44 4 22 10 0 12 382 490 -108
14 Biarritz 26 8 23 4 1 18 328 552 -224
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