Toulouse and La Rochelle aim for a clean sweep, while Racing 92 are on the brink… The barometer of French clubs before the final day
The fourth and final day of the Champions Cup begins on Friday with a match between LOU and the Pretoria Bulls.
This is the last match of the round of 16 of the European Rugby Cup. While in the Champions Cup, Toulouse and La Rochelle have already validated their ticket, as well as Toulon in the Challenge Cup, nothing is done for the other French clubs, before the fourth and final day, which will take place from Friday 20 to Sunday 22 January. The opportunity for franceinfo: sport to take stock of the situation of each Top 14 team before the resumption of European hostilities.
They are already qualified
The winners of the 2022 and 2021 editions of the Champions Cup respectively, Stade Rochelais and Stade Toulousain have lived up to their status, with three wins in as many games in this campaign. To stay at the top of Pool B, the Maritimes will travel to Northampton Saints on Saturday at 2pm, before the Red and Blacks host Munster of Ireland on Sunday at 4.15pm at the Ernest-Wallon Stadium (to be followed on France 2 and france.tv). This will provide the best possible preparation for the six Rochelais and eleven Toulousans selected by Fabien Galthié for the 2023 Six Nations Tournament.
After its final loss against the LOU last year (30-12), Toulon is still well on its way to go far in the Challenge Cup. With 15 points out of 15 possible in pool A, Franck Azéma and Pierre Mignoni’s RCT will try to finish in beauty against the Zebre of Parma, on Friday at 9pm, at the Félix-Mayol stadium.
They still believe
Montpellier (7th, seven points) and Clermont (8th, six points) can legitimately believe that they can qualify for the Top 8 of the Champions Cup pool B. The French champions will have to win at home to London Irish on Sunday at 2pm. The French champions will have to win at home against the London Irish on Sunday at 2pm, while the Yellow Jackets will have to win in Cape Town against the Stormers on Saturday at 6.30pm, after being thrashed 29-44 by the Leicester Tigers a week ago.
In Pool A, the picture is less rosy, as none of the French teams may make it to the last 16. After their narrow victory over Harlequins (30-29), Racing 92 (8th, five points) have earned the right to dream, but will have to achieve the feat at Leinster on Saturday at 4.15 pm. The Irish, who are four-time European champions, have crushed everything in their path so far (three wins and a positive difference of 124 points).
In Challenge Cup Pool B, Stade Francais (4th, eight points) will have to finish the job at Treviso on Saturday at 4.15pm, while Section Paloise (6th, six points) will try to take points against the Cheetahs the following day at the same time.
They need a miracle or they can save their honour
We can qualify for the last 16 with three defeats in as many games. This is what LOU (10th, three points) and Union Bordeaux Bègles (11th, two points) want to believe before the last day of the Champions Cup group stage. In order to do this, Lyon will use all their strength against the Pretoria Bulls on Friday at 9pm, while UBB, who were slapped by the Sharks (32-3), will have to look for a bonus win against Gloucester on Saturday at 4.15pm at Chaban-Delmas (to be followed on France 2 and france.tv). In the meantime, Castres, who are bottom of Pool A with no points, can still hope to finish in 9th or 10th place – synonymous with a place in the Challenge Cup – if they win at Exeter on Saturday at 6.30 pm.
In the Challenge Cup, Perpignan and Brive, who have one point in Pool A, still have a slim chance of qualifying if they win against Bristol for USAP (Friday 9pm) and Cardiff for CAB (Saturday 9pm). Last in Pool B and already eliminated, Aviron Bayonnais will try to salvage their honour against the Welsh Scarlets on Saturday at 2pm at the Jean-Dauger Stadium (to be followed on France 3 and france.tv).