วันเสาร์ที่ 24 เมษายน พ.ศ. 2553
Racing-Metro confront old foes Stade at French 'Top 14'
Racing-Metro confront Parisian rivals Stade Francais on Saturday on the last day of the Top 14's regular season.
Toulon's fly-half Jonny Wilkinson (left) is congratulated by his teammate Tanta Umaga after winning their French Top 14 rugby union match against Perpignan, on April 17, in Marseille. The top two teams gain an automatic pass to the play-off semi-finals, with leaders Toulon, on 76 points, away on Saturday to Brive, and second-placed Perpignan, just 1 point behind, hosting Albi.
All the six play-off places have already been allocated with Racing-Metro grabbing the final spot last weekend with their thrilling 29-22 comeback win over Biarritz.
The top two teams gain an automatic pass to the play-off semi-finals, with leaders Toulon, on 76 points, away to Brive, and second-placed Perpignan, just one point behind, hosting Albi.
Albi, the bottom club, and Montauban, who have been penalised for financial difficulties, have already been relegated.
Racing-Metro's game with Stade Francais is the latest chapter of a rivalry stretching back over 100 years.
The first fixture between the two capital sides was in 1892, with a distinguished referee officiating that day - a certain Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympics.
Racing-Metro prevailed then to win the championship - not as difficult a feat as it is today for the league was only made up of those two teams.
Racing have excelled this season on their return to the top flight while for Stade this campaign has been one to forget.
The boys in pink have missed the play-offs, for only the second time in 12 years; were knocked out of the European Cup quarter-finals by Toulouse; their prop David Attoub was with a mammoth 70 week-ban for gouging after what the disciplinary chief who imposed the penalty labelled "the worst act of contact with the eyes that I have had to deal with" - and in March were summoned to supply financial guarantees to the National Rugby League (LNR).
Toulon's bid to gain direct entry to the semi-finals meanwhile has not been helped by injuries to a number of key players including prop Laurent Emmanuelli who has a fractured nose, hooker Sebastien Bruno and South African number 8 Joe Van Niekerk.
Top 14 fixtures
Toulouse v Castres
Montpellier v Bourgoin
Montauban v Bayonne
Brive v Toulon
Perpignan v Albi
Stade Francais v Racing-Metro
Biarritz v Clermont