Top 14 : Toulon-Castres and Montpellier-Racing, dams, electric

Under the gaze of the first two of the class, La Rochelle and Clermont, the other four clubs qualified for the finals of the championship of France of rugby will do battle this weekend at the dams of chic and shock. Toulon and Castres open the ball, Friday at 21 hours, at the Stade Mayol, in a match which will define the next opponent of the Stadium, la rochelle, before the duel of arm fat between Montpellier and Racing 92, Saturday at 17 hours.

winger castrais David Smith, formerly of the RCT.

  • Toulon-Castres, the chassé-croisé

Finalists of the editions 2013 and 2014 of the Top 14, Toulon and Castres have a balance sheet similar to this year. Close to the final ranking (4e and 5e), the two clubs no longer faced each other in the play-offs for the final in 2014, when the RCT had taken his revenge (18-10) on the CO, champion surprise a year earlier (19-14). This is not the fault of interests : the CO has missed since 2010 as a final phase (2015), while the RCT is now ongoing since 2012.

The approach is different, however. In the small town of Tarn (40 000 inhabitants), it takes nothing for granted. the ” A club like ours, a city like ours, when one sees the arms race, when we see the cities which are in the road, yes it is a great performance to continue to be on these dams and I believe that on the season it is well deserved “, welcomed the coach Christophe Urios. The historic hooker CO, champion of France in 1993, has returned to lead his club to heart in 2015 after a successful experience in Oyonnax. In his first season last year, in the Tarn did not have the weight in dams, disposed in Montpellier (9-28). the ” compared to last season, it feels a little better and this is normal “, ” says the captain, Rodrigo Capo Ortega: ” last season, it was the first year with Christophe and of course the mayonnaise begins to take. “

We can’t say the same for Toulon, who will have in one year seen five managers to wipe his bench : between Bernard Laporte, the party in the summer of 2016 on a defeat in the final of the Top 14, and Fabien Galthié, who is about to land in the harbour, three coaches have tried their luck this season with the tempestuous president Mourad Boudjellal. Diego Dominguez and Mike Ford thanked, it is the Englishman Richard Cockerill, who is dressed in the costume of the saviour : since its arrival in early April, the RCT is unbeaten (4 wins). What does it matter if Toulon has rarely been satisfied in the game this season. the ” We have turned the page of the season “, explained Guilhem Guirado. the ” We finished in the top 4, which was our goal. It is behind us. If all goes well, there will be three matches to win to go at the end. “

Go to the end to close the cycle exceptional (3 European Cups, 1 Brennus) years Giteau. The Australian the 103 selections, promoted to coach at the side of Cockerill, will be living his last game at Félix-Mayol, on the bench. the ” They will try to gouge on a simple game direct and from the conquest “, anticipates Urios, trusting : ” We’re going to surprise them “.

The winger MHR Nemani Nadolo.

  • Montpellier-Racing, revenge in the air

Less than a month after their last confrontation, marked by several controversies, Montpellier and Racing 92 cross again iron Saturday in the Hérault. On 22 April, the two clubs were indeed finally competed in a match less remained in the memory for its result, without appeal (54-3 for the MHR), that to his sides.

Before, since it had been postponed by the League to this date, in spite of the opposition of president héraultais, Mohed Altrad, after the merger eventually failed between Racing and Stade français. For, with banners hostile to the League president, Paul Goze, and that of Heaven-and-White, Jacky Lorenzetti, accused of collusion in the postponement of the meeting. And finally after, with an output of vitriol for the coach back in the île de france, Laurent Labit, claiming that Altrad, whose name now appears on the jersey of the XV of France, had ” purchased the federation, the shirt in particular, and a part of the press “.

All this would be forgotten a month later. The context does not, this does not count any more “, stated, for example, the third line from montpellier Kélian Galletier, when the coach of the forwards, Racing, Laurent Travers says that ” really, there are no tensions “ with the MHR. See, in any case between the presidents, and Maxime Machenaud is expected to welcome ” inevitably hostile “. the ” But we are prepared and what is important to us it is the land “ adds the scrum half.

Brice Dulin.

If the MHR comes launched (five wins in seven matches), with his second line Jacques Du Plessis (initially suspended, but has received a vice of form) and his master to play Francois Steyn (restored), the Racing ahead of him, hidden. The champion title is in fact qualified by a mouse hole after a season leaded by business extra-sporting (leak Goosen, case of corticoids, anti-doping positive of Dulin and Nyanga to the higénamine, arrest for drunken driving of Carter, in possession of cocaine for Ali Williams, fusion failed), but he’s still alive.

” And it hopes to stay standing for as long as possible and as far away as possible “ emphasizes Through, who expects that this season’s tumultuous ” we will have made you stronger “. The multiple levers of motivation are found for the ile-de-france, and the scrum-half héraultais Benoît Paillaugue are expecting ” to a whole new game “ that a month ago, between two of the biggest packs in the front of the championship. the ” A match of final phase is an arm of iron to hold it for 80 minutes. The team that let go on the mental plane loses more often “ summarizes Galletier, which ” want to go look for a semi-final in Marseille “ (may 27). A second for the club, after the one in 2011 won (26-25) in the same Velodrome in the face… to the Racing.

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