Top 14

The Top 14 (French pronunciation: ​[tɔp katɔʀz]) is a professional rugby union club competition that is played in France created in 1892. The Top 14 is at the top of the national league system operated by the French National Rugby League, also known by its French initialism of LNR. There is promotion and relegation between the Top 14 and the next level down, the Rugby Pro D2. The fourteen best rugby teams in France participate in the competition, hence the name Top 14. The competition was previously known as the Top 16.

The first ever final took place in 1892, between two Paris-based sides, Stade Français and Racing Club de France, with the latter becoming the inaugural champions. The competition has been held on an annual basis since, except from 1915 to 1919—because of World War I—and from 1940 to 1942—because of World War II. Toulouse is the most successful club in the competition with 19 titles.

Top 14
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2018–19 Top 14 season
Logo Top14 2012
SportRugby union
Founded1892
No. of teams14
Country France
Most recent
champion(s)
Castres (5th title)
(2017–18)
Most titlesToulouse (19 titles)[1]
Relegation toRugby Pro D2
Official websiteOfficial site

History

Early years

The first competition was held in 1892, as a one-off championship game between the Racing Club de France and Stade Français. The Racing Club defeated Stade Français four points to three to win the first ever title, though the stadistes got their revenge the following year in a repeat of the final. The match official for that first final was Pierre de Coubertin. Stade Français would go on to win a number of titles thereafter. The 1897 and 1898 series were awarded on a points system after a round-robin. Although the competition was called the French championship, entry was confined to Parisian clubs. The 1899 season was the first to include clubs from outside of Paris, and led to Stade Bordelais (from Bordeaux) winning the final that season, which was also played outside of Paris, in Le Bouscat (a suburb of the city of Bordeaux).

For the following decade the championship game would usually end up being contested by the Racing Club, Stade Français and Stade Bordelais, with Stade Bordelais actually winning five titles during this period. During this time the final was usually held in various stadia around Paris with the exception of 1903 and 1909, when it was held in Toulouse, as SOE Toulouse and Stade Toulousain were finalists respectively. The competition was then won by a number of different clubs before World War I, with teams like FC Lyon, Stade Toulousain, Aviron Bayonnais and USA Perpignan claiming their first titles.

Between the wars

Due to the war, operations were suspended for a number of years. In its place, a competition known as the Coupe de l'Espérance was held, which involved mostly young boys who had not yet been drafted. The competition was held four times, but is not normally considered a full championship. The normal competition returned for the 1920 season, and Stadoceste Tarbais became the first post-war champions, defeating the Racing Club de France in the final. During the 1920s Stade Toulousain would create its now famous rugby history, winning five championships during the decade (Stade's very first feat took place in 1912 when they were crowned champions without losing a single game in the whole season: the team was nicknamed "la Vierge Rouge" — the Red Virgin). USA Perpignan would also win two championships (their 1925 final victory was actually a second match, as a previous final had ended in a nil-all draw).

During the 1930s the championship game was held only in Bordeaux and Toulouse. The 1930 championship game, won by Agen over US Quillan, was the first final to go into extra time. It would also see Toulon and Lyon OU win their first championship games. During the latter part of the decade, RC Narbonne, CS Vienne and Perpignan all won titles, and Biarritz Olympique were champions in both 1935 and 1939.

Postwar

After the war the championship final returned to Paris, and was played at Parc des Princes for the next four seasons. The competition during the 1940s was won by a number of different teams, though Castres won in 1949, and then again in 1950. FC Lourdes would become a dominant club during the 1950s, winning five championships, and another in 1960.

SU Agen would go on to win three titles during the 1960s as well. Lourdes were also the champions of the 1968 season, but due to the May 1968 events, the finale was played three weeks behind normal schedule. At the end of regulation time the score was tied at 6–6, and then 9–9 after extra-time. Lourdes were declared champions because they had scored two tries to Toulon's none and also because it was impossible to reschedule a third final so late, as the French national team were to leave on a tour to New Zealand and South Africa.

Although Béziers won their first championship in the 1961 season, it would be the 1970s which would see a golden era for the club, as they would win ten championships between 1971 and 1984, as well as being runners-up in 1976. Also in the mid 1970s, after being held in Toulouse, Lyon and Bordeaux in recent years, the championship final was taken to Parc des Princes, Paris, on a permanent basis. During the rest of the 1980s, Toulouse were the dominant team, winning the championship in 1985, 1986 and 1989. Toulon won in 1987 (and were runners-up in 1985 and 1989), and Agen won in 1988 (and were runners-up in 1984 and 1986).

Into the professional era

The first match of the 1990s went into extra time, as the Racing Club de France defeated Agen, winning their first championship since 1959. Bègles, Toulon, Castres and Toulouse would win the following finals. The 1990s also saw the game of rugby union go professional following the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa. This also led to the establishment of the European Heineken Cup. Including their 1994 victory, Toulouse won four championships in succession. For the 1998 season, the final was moved to the newly constructed Stade de France, the new national stadium. The final, played in front of 78,000, saw Stade Français win their first championship since 1908.

Rising popularity

Top 14 Logo
Top 14 logo used through the 2011–12 season.

The competition saw an enormous rise in popularity in 2005–06, with attendance rising to an average of 9,600, up by 25% from 2004–05, and numerous sellouts. On 15 October 2005, Stade Français drew a crowd of 79,502 at Stade de France for their home match against Toulouse; this broke the previous French attendance record for a regular-season league match in any sport (including football) by over 20,000. That record was broken on 4 March 2006, when Stade Français drew 79,604 to a rematch of the 2004–05 final against Biarritz at Stade de France. It was broken again on 14 October 2006 with 79,619 as the same two opponents met, and a fourth time on 27 January 2007, with 79,741 for another Stade Français-Toulouse match.[2] During the regular season 2010–2011, the average attendance per match reached 14,184.[3]

In 2011, Canal+ indicated that evening matches were being watched by 800,000–850,000 viewers while afternoon matches were watched by around 700,000 viewers.[4]

In recent years, numerous foreign players have joined Top 14 teams.

Changes afoot

In August 2016, LNR released a strategic plan outlining its vision for French rugby through the 2023 Rugby World Cup. The plan includes significant changes to the top levels of the league system, although the changes were more dramatic for Pro D2 than for the Top 14. Changes affecting the Top 14 are:[5]

  • Starting with the 2017–18 season, the only club to be automatically relegated from Top 14 will be the bottom club on the league table. That club will be replaced by the Pro D2 champion.
  • From 2017–18, the second-from-bottom team on the Top 14 table will enter a playoff with the Pro D2 runner-up, with the winner taking up the final Top 14 place.

On 13 March 2017, the Top 14 was rocked by the announcement that Racing 92 and Stade Français planned to merge into a single club effective with the 2017–18 season.[6] Stade Français players soon voted almost unanimously to go on strike over the proposed merger,[7] and within days LNR held an emergency meeting to discuss the Paris clubs' plans.[8] The clubs announced on 19 March that the planned merger had collapsed.[9]

Current teams

2018–19 season

Club City (department) Stadium Capacity
SU Agen Lot-et-Garonne Agen (Lot-et-Garonne) Stade Armandie 14,000
Union Bordeaux Bègles Bordeaux (Gironde) Stade Chaban-Delmas (Bordeaux) 34,694
Castres Olympique Castres (Tarn) Stade Pierre-Fabre 12,500
ASM Clermont Auvergne Clermont-Ferrand (Puy-de-Dôme) Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin 19,022
FC Grenoble Grenoble (Isère) Stade des Alpes 20,068
Lyon OU Lyon (Métropole de Lyon) Matmut Stadium de Gerland 25,000
Montpellier Montpellier (Hérault) Altrad Stadium 15 697
Section Paloise Pau (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) Stade du Hameau 18,324
USA Perpignan Perpignan (Pyrénées-Orientales) Stade Aimé Giral 16,600
Racing 92 Nanterre (Hauts-de-Seine) Paris La Défense Arena[a][b] 30,681[12]
Stade Rochelais La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime) Stade Marcel-Deflandre 16,000
Stade Français Paris Paris, 16th arrondissement Stade Jean-Bouin 20,000
RC Toulonnais Toulon (Var) Stade Mayol [c] 18,300
Stade Toulousain Toulouse (Haute-Garonne) Stade Ernest-Wallon [d] 19,500
  1. ^ Renamed from U Arena during the 2018 offseason.[10]
  2. ^ Racing opened the 2017–18 season at Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir in Colombes. Their first match at what was then U Arena was against Toulouse on 22 December 2017.[11]
  3. ^ In recent years, Toulon has taken occasional home matches to Stade Vélodrome in Marseille and Allianz Riviera in Nice.
  4. ^ Toulouse often plays high-demand home matches in the city's largest sporting venue, Stadium Municipal. The only exception in recent years was in 2013–15, during major renovations to that venue for UEFA Euro 2016.

Economic strength of the clubs

Over recent years, the Top 14 has seen the economic strength of its clubs rise significantly. Helped by high attendance, large television rights contracts,[13] public subsidies and the rise of the euro exchange rate,[14] Top 14 clubs have seen their overall spending budget increase significantly. In 2011–2012, 4 clubs had a budget over 20 million euros: Toulouse (33), Clermont (24), Racing Métro [now Racing 92] (22), Stade Francais (21).[15] The average salary of players in the Top 14 was estimated to have risen, in 2010, to $153,700 (compared to $123,000 in the English Premiership).[16] The wealth of the Top 14 clubs has led them to attract a large number of international players,[17] and to build teams with more strength in depth (in 2011, Top 14 clubs could have as many as 45 players, compared to 33 for Leicester Tigers, 2010 Premiership winner).[18]

Two recent changes in regulation may somewhat limit this economic growth. First, the French government repealed the law known as DIC (Droit à l'Image Collectif) on 1 July 2010. This law had allowed all member clubs in French professional sports organisations to treat 30% of each player's salary as image rights. This portion of player salaries was thus exempt from France's high payroll and social insurance taxes.[19]

Second, to control the growth of club spending, the LNR introduced a salary cap in the Top 14 in the 2010–11 season. Under the provisions of the cap, team payrolls were limited to €8 million.[20] This is in addition to an existing requirement that wage bills be no more than 50% of a team's turnover.[21] However, the €8 million cap was 5% greater than the highest official wage bill in the 2009–10 Top 14, and translated to £7.1 million at the time the cap was announced, well above the English Premiership's then-current £4 million cap. For the 2011–2012 season, the LNR raised the salary cap to €8.7 million.[22] Since then, the cap has risen still further, to €10 million starting in 2013–14 and continuing through 2015–16. Additionally, the cap now excludes youth players whose salaries are no more than €50,000.[23]

At the same time as LNR announced the salary cap, it also announced new rules requiring a minimum percentage of French players on club rosters. Players qualifying under these rules, referred to in French as JIFF (joueurs issus des filières de formation, loosely translated as "academy-trained players"), must have been registered with the FFR for at least five years before turning 23, or have spent three seasons in an FFR-approved training centre before turning 21.[24][20] Original plans were to require 50% JIFFs in 2010–11, but protests from leading clubs led to a reduction to 40% for that season. Initially, the 50% quota was to be met in 2011–12, and 60% in 2012–13, but a compromise with the clubs saw no change to the limit until 2013–14, at which time it increased to 55%. Additionally, effective in 2015–16, LNR was allowed to fine clubs that did not have a minimum of 12 JIFFs in their matchday squads.[24] These regulations, however, do not consider eligibility to play for the French national team. For example, although the Armitage brothers (Delon, Steffon and Guy) all represented England internationally, they qualified as JIFF because of their tenure in Nice's youth setup. On the other hand, recent France international Jérôme Thion, despite being a native and lifelong resident of France, did not qualify because he switched from basketball to rugby too late in his youth.[25]

While the most visible critics of the change in policy were wealthy club owners such as Mourad Boudjellal of Toulon and Max Guazzini of Stade Français, concern had been growing in French rugby circles that some smaller clubs might fold completely. Bourgoin only avoided a bankruptcy filing in 2009 by players agreeing to large wage cuts, and Brive, whose 2009–10 wage bill was €7.2 million, announced that they would cut their budget by 40% for the 2010–11 season.[19] Following the 2009–10 season, Bourgoin were denied a professional licence by LNR due to their ongoing financial issues, but the French Rugby Federation (FFR) reversed this decision on Bourgoin's appeal.[26] Montauban were relegated at the end of the same season after filing for bankruptcy.[27]

By the 2012–13 season, the internationalization of the Top 14 had reached such a state that Irish rugby journalist Ian Moriarty, who has had considerable experience covering the French game, asked the rhetorical question, "Has there ever been such a large disconnect between France's club teams and the international side they are supposed to serve?" He cited the following statistics from that season to make his point:[28]

  • Clermont and Toulon, who were set to play in the Heineken Cup final within days of Moriarty's piece, fielded a total of eight France-qualified starters out of a possible 30 in their Heineken Cup semifinal matches. Of these eight players, only four were regulars in the French national team.
  • During the 2012–13 Top 14, none of the top three points scorers were French, and only three of the top 10 try scorers were French.
  • Of the players who made the most appearances in their respective positions during that season, only three (out of 15) were French.
  • National team coach Philippe Saint-André suggested that several "foreign" players—meaning players who were born and largely developed outside the country—could make their debuts for France during the team's 2013 summer tour. Moriarty specifically named five such players as potential Test newcomers.

While the JIFF policy worked on one level—the number of foreign players recruited into the Top 14 went from 61 for 2011–12 to 34 for 2014–15—clubs quickly found a way around the rules. Many clubs dispatched scouts to identify top teenage prospects in other countries, and then enrolled them in their academies to start the JIFF qualification process. For example, the 59 players in the 2015–16 Clermont youth squad included 17 from nine countries outside of France.[24] A more fundamental problem was identified in 2015 by Laurent Labit, at the time backs coach of the club now known as Racing 92. In an interview with British rugby journalist Gavin Mortimer, Labit pointed out that France has no organized team sport in its educational system at the primary level—children must join an outside club in order to play sports. Only at age 15 do youths have the opportunity to attend special sporting schools, but places in such institutions are limited. In turn, this means that most young French players are technically well behind their counterparts in many other countries, most notably Commonwealth members and Ireland.[29]

Format and structure

Final top 14 2007-1
Final ASM vs Stade Français

The Top 14 is contested by fourteen professional rugby union clubs throughout France. The domestic season runs from August through to June. Every club contests 26 games during the regular season – over 26 rounds of competition. For many years, the season was split into two halves for scheduling purposes, with both halves scheduled in the same order, with the team at home in the first half of the season on the road in the second. However, this strict order has since been abandoned, although the season is still loosely divided into halves. Throughout the August–June competition there are breaks during the season, as there are also European club fixtures (from 2014–15, Champions Cup and Challenge Cup) that are played during the rugby season, as well as the Six Nations Championship, in which many top French players are involved, as well as a few players from the other European powers. The schedule may be adjusted somewhat in World Cup years; this was especially true in the 2007–08 season, which ran up against the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France. That season, the Top 14 played on all of the Six Nations weekends and on some of the Heineken Cup weekends.

The Top 14 is organized by the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR), which runs the professional rugby leagues within France (Top 14 and Rugby Pro D2). There is a promotion and relegation system between the Top 14 and Pro D2. Starting with the 2017-18 season, only the lowest-placed club in the table after the regular season is automatically relegated to Pro D2. The playoff champion of Pro D2 is automatically promoted, while the next-to-last Top 14 club and the playoff runner-up of Pro D2 play each other to determine which club will be in Top 14, and which will be in Pro D2 the following season. Starting with the 2009–10 season, the Top 14 knock-out stages consist of three rounds. The teams finishing third through to sixth in the table play quarter-finals, hosted by the No. 3 and No. 4 teams. The winners then face the top two seeds in the semi-finals, whose winners then meet in the final at the Stade de France (although the 2016 final was instead held at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain due to a scheduling conflict with France's hosting of UEFA Euro 2016). In previous seasons, only the top four teams qualified for semi-finals. Unlike many other major rugby competitions (such as the Aviva Premiership, Mitre 10 Cup, Currie Cup, and from 2009–10 the Celtic League/Pro12), the Top 14 has traditionally held its semi-finals at neutral sites.

Regardless of the playoff format, the top six teams had qualified for the following season's Heineken Cup in the final years of that competition, and since 2013–14 a minimum of six teams qualify for the European Rugby Champions Cup. Before the 2009–10 season, the seventh-place team also qualified if a French club advanced farther in that season's Heineken Cup than any team from England or Italy. While the European qualification system was changed for 2009–10, the normal contingent of six Top 14 teams in the Heineken Cup did not change. The default number of French teams in the Champions Cup has remained at six, but the method for a seventh French team to qualify has changed from performance in the previous European season to a post-season playoff. For the inaugural Champions Cup in 2014–15, this playoff involved the seventh-place teams from both England and the Top 14; in future years, the same two sides will be joined by one Pro12 side.

Previously in the first phase of the then-Top 16, the teams were divided into two pools of eight. This was followed by a second phase, in which the eight highest-ranked teams played for semi-final spots and the bottom eight teams battled against relegation. In 2004–05, the top division consisted of a single pool of 16 teams, with the top four teams advancing to a knockout playoff at the end of the season to determine the champion. From 2005–06 through 2008–09, the top division was run with a single pool of 14 teams, again with a season-ending four-team playoff. The single pool was retained for 2009–10, but the playoffs were expanded to six teams.

The LNR uses a slightly different bonus points system from that used in most other major domestic competitions. Instead of a bonus point being awarded for scoring 4 tries in a match, regardless of the match result, a bonus point is awarded to a winning team that scores 3 tries more than its opponent. This system makes two scenarios that can be seen in the standard system impossible:

  • A losing team earning two bonus points. (The "offensive" bonus point, linked to the number of tries scored, can only be earned by the winning team in France.)
  • Either team earning a bonus point in a drawn match. (See above for the "offensive" bonus point. The "defensive" bonus point can only be earned by a losing team.)

For 2014–15, LNR further tweaked its bonus point system. The margin of defeat that allows the losing team to earn a bonus point was reduced from 7 points to 5.

European competition

The Top 14 serves as the qualification route for French clubs in European club competition. Starting with the 2014–15 season, Top 14 teams compete in the new European club rugby competitions—the European Rugby Champions Cup and European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Champions Cup and Challenge Cup replaced the previous European competitions, the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup.[30]

Under the new structure, the top six teams on the Top 14 table qualify directly for the following season's Champions Cup. The seventh-placed team advances to a play-off for another Champions Cup place. In 2013–14, the play-off involved said Top 14 club and the seventh-placed club in the English Premiership. Initially, plans were for the play-off in subsequent years to also include two sides from Pro12 in the Celtic nations and Italy.[30] Due to fixture clashes with the Top 14 season, the play-off that followed the 2014–15 season involved only one Pro12 side.[31] Because the start of the 2015–16 European season ran up against the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the play-off was completely scrapped for that season, with the final Champions Cup place for 2016–17 instead awarded to the winner of the 2016 Challenge Cup.

In the Heineken Cup era, a minimum of six French clubs qualified for the Heineken Cup, with the possibility of a seventh depending on the performance of French clubs in the previous season's Heineken Cup and Challenge Cup.

All Top 14 clubs that do not qualify for the Champions Cup automatically qualify for the Challenge Cup.[30] This means that all Top 14 clubs will participate in European competition during a given season.

The French clubs have had success in the European competitions. The inaugural Heineken Cup, held in the 1995–96 season, was won by Toulouse, which would eventually claim three more championships (2003, 2005 and 2010). It was not until the fifth championship game that there was no French team in the final. There have also been five occasions where the final was an all-French affair. The first three were all won by Toulouse (against Perpignan in 2003, Stade Français in 2005, and Biarritz in 2010); the other two were victories by Toulon over Clermont in 2013 and 2015.

In addition to the French success in the Heineken Cup and Champions Cup, the clubs in the lower European competitions have achieved similar results. The first four finals of the European Challenge Cup (1997–2000) were all-French affairs. Since then, however, only four French clubs (Clermont in 2007, Biarritz in 2012, Montpellier in 2016, and Stade Français in 2017) have won this competition, and French clubs in general have had less success; the revised Top 16/Top 14 format has required them to pay more attention to league games in order to avoid relegation. The now defunct European Shield, a repechage tournament for clubs knocked out in the first round of the Challenge Cup that was played for three seasons in 2003–05, was won by a French team each time.

Table

2018–19 Top 14 Table
Club Played Won Drawn Lost Points For Points Against Points Diff. Tries For Tries Against Try Bonus Losing Bonus Points
1 Toulouse 19 15 2 2 546 349 197 68 39 7 1 72
2 Clermont 19 13 2 4 611 339 272 69 31 7 2 65
3 Lyon 20 12 1 7 507 415 92 52 45 5 1 56
4 Castres 20 12 0 8 405 408 -3 37 39 3 3 54
5 Bordeaux Bègles 19 11 1 7 468 425 43 49 44 4 2 52
6 Racing 19 11 0 8 504 407 97 65 38 5 2 51
7 La Rochelle 19 12 0 7 439 456 -17 54 48 5 1 51
8 Stade Français 20 11 0 10 433 413 20 42 43 4 3 51
9 Montpellier 20 9 1 10 472 430 42 56 45 3 5 46
10 Toulon 20 8 0 12 406 439 -33 47 46 4 2 38
11 Pau 20 7 0 13 382 517 -135 37 57 1 4 33
12 Agen 20 6 1 13 325 518 -193 27 60 0 3 29
13 Grenoble 20 3 2 15 358 534 -176 27 63 0 4 20
14 Perpignan 20 2 0 18 339 560 -221 30 62 0 4 12

If teams are level at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:

  1. Competition points earned in head-to-head matches
  2. Points difference in head-to-head matches
  3. Try differential in head-to-head matches
  4. Points difference in all matches
  5. Try differential in all matches
  6. Points scored in all matches
  7. Tries scored in all matches
  8. Fewer matches forfeited
  9. Classification in the previous Top 14 season
Green background (rows 1 and 2) receive semi-final play-off places and receive berths in the 2019–20 European Rugby Champions Cup.
Blue background (rows 3 to 6) receive quarter-final play-off places, and receive berths in the Champions Cup.
Plain background indicates teams that earn a place in the 2019–20 European Rugby Challenge Cup.
Pink background (row 13) will qualify to the Relegation play-offs.
Red background (row 14) will automatically be relegated to Rugby Pro D2.

Final table — source: [1]

French broadcasting rights

Since the 2008-09 season, the Top 14 regular season and playoff quarter-finals and playoff semi-finals have been televised by Canal+. Between the 2008-09 season and the 2010-11 season, France Télévisions televised the playoff final, but since the 2011-12 season they and Canal+ jointly televised the playoff final.

Total wins

The following clubs have won the title:[1]

Club Wins Seasons
Stade Toulousain 19 1912, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1927, 1947, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2008, 2011, 2012
Stade Français 14 1893, 1894, 1895, 1897, 1898, 1901, 1903, 1908, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2015
AS Béziers 11 1961, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984
Union Bordeaux Bègles 9 1899, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1909, 1911 (as Stade Bordelais), 1969, 1991 (as CA Bordeaux-Bègles)
SU Agen 8 1930, 1945, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1976, 1982, 1988
FC Lourdes 8 1948, 1952, 1953, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1968
USA Perpignan 7 1914, 1921, 1925, 1938, 1944, 1955, 2009
Racing 92 6 1892, 1900, 1902, 1959, 1990 (all as Racing Club de France), 2016 (as Racing 92)
Biarritz Olympique 5 1935, 1939, 2002, 2005, 2006
Castres Olympique 5 1949, 1950, 1993, 2013, 2018
RC Toulonnais 4 1931, 1987, 1992, 2014
Aviron Bayonnais 3 1913, 1934, 1943
Section Paloise 3 1928, 1946, 1964
Stadoceste Tarbais 2 1920, 1973
Lyon 2 1932, 1933
Narbonne 2 1936, 1979
Clermont Auvergne 2 2010, 2017
Olympique de Pantin 1 1896
FC Lyon 1 1910
US Quillan 1 1929
CS Vienne 1 1937
US Carmaux 1 1951
FC Grenoble 1 1954
Stade Montois 1 1963
US Montauban 1 1967
ROC La Voulte-Valence 1 1970 (as La Voulte Sportif)

Results

The scores in green are links to the account of each final on the site of the professional league (LNR). In French.

Year Champion Score Runner-up Place Spectators
20 March 1892 Racing Club de France 4–3 Stade Français Bagatelle, Paris[32] 2,000
19 May 1893 Stade Français 7–3 Racing Club de France Bécon-les-Bruyères 1,200
18 March 1894 Stade Français 18–0 Inter NOS Bécon-les-Bruyères 1,500
17 March 1895 Stade Français 16–0 Olympique de Paris Stade Vélodrome, Courbevoie ...
5 April 1896 Olympique de Pantin 12–0 Stade Français Vélodrome, Courbevoie ...
1897 Stade Français [33] Olympique de Pantin ...
1898 Stade Français [34] Racing Club de France ...
30 April 1899 Stade Bordelais 5–3 Stade Français Route du Médoc, Le Bouscat[35] 3,000
22 April 1900 Racing Club de France 37–3 Stade Bordelais Levallois-Perret 1,500
31 March 1901 Stade Français 0–3[36] Stade Bordelais Route du Médoc, Le Bouscat ...
23 March 1902 Racing Club de France 6–0 Stade Bordelais Parc des Princes, Paris 1,000
26 April 1903 Stade Français 16–8 SOE Toulouse Prairie des Filtres, Toulouse 5,000
27 March 1904 Stade Bordelais 3–0 Stade Français La Faisanderie, Saint-Cloud 2,000
16 April 1905 Stade Bordelais 12–3 Stade Français Route du Médoc, Le Bouscat 6,000
8 April 1906 Stade Bordelais 9–0 Stade Français Parc des Princes, Paris 4,000
24 March 1907 Stade Bordelais 14–3 Stade Français Route du Médoc, Le Bouscat 12,000
5 April 1908 Stade Français 16–3 Stade Bordelais Stade Yves-du-Manoir, Colombes 10,000
4 April 1909 Stade Bordelais 17–0 Stade Toulousain Stade des Ponts Jumeaux, Toulouse 15,000
17 April 1910 FC Lyon 13–8 Stade Bordelais Parc des Princes, Paris 8,000
8 April 1911 Stade Bordelais 14–0 SCUF Route du Médoc, Le Bouscat 12,000
31 March 1912 Stade Toulousain 8–6 Racing Club de France Stade des Ponts Jumeaux, Toulouse 15,000
20 April 1913 Aviron Bayonnais 31–8 SCUF Stade Yves-du-Manoir, Colombes 20,000
3 May 1914 USA Perpignan 8–7 Stadoceste Tarbais Stade des Ponts Jumeaux, Toulouse 15.000
1915–1919 Due to the war, the championship was replaced by the Coupe de l'Espérance
25 April 1920 Stadoceste Tarbais 8–3 Racing Club de France Route du Médoc, Le Bouscat 20,000
17 April 1921 USA Perpignan 5–0 Stade Toulousain Parc des Sports de Sauclières, Béziers 20,000
23 April 1922 Stade Toulousain 6–0 Aviron Bayonnais Route du Médoc, Le Bouscat 20,000
13 May 1923 Stade Toulousain 3–0 Aviron Bayonnais Stade Yves-du-Manoir, Colombes 15,000
27 April 1924 Stade Toulousain 3–0 USA Perpignan Parc Lescure, Bordeaux 20,000
3 May 1925 USA Perpignan 5–0[37] US Carcassonne Maraussan, Narbonne 20,000
2 May 1926 Stade Toulousain 11–0 USA Perpignan Parc Lescure, Bordeaux 25,000
29 May 1927 Stade Toulousain 19–9 Stade Français Stade des Ponts Jumeaux, Toulouse 20,000
6 May 1928 Section Paloise 6–4 US Quillan Stade des Ponts Jumeaux, Toulouse 20,000
19 May 1929 US Quillan 11–8 FC Lézignan Stade des Ponts Jumeaux, Toulouse 20,000
18 May 1930 SU Agen 4–0 a.e.t. US Quillan Parc Lescure, Bordeaux 28,000
10 May 1931 RC Toulon 6–3 Lyon OU Parc Lescure, Bordeaux 10,000
5 May 1932 Lyon OU 9–3 RC Narbonne Parc Lescure, Bordeaux 13,000
7 May 1933 Lyon OU 10–3 RC Narbonne Parc Lescure, Bordeaux 15,000
13 May 1934 Aviron Bayonnais 13–8 Biarritz Olympique Stade des Ponts Jumeaux, Toulouse 18,000
12 May 1935 Biarritz Olympique 3–0 USA Perpignan Stade des Ponts Jumeaux, Toulouse 23,000
10 May 1936 RC Narbonne 6–3 AS Montferrand Stade des Ponts Jumeaux, Toulouse 25,000
2 May 1937 CS Vienne 13–7 AS Montferrand Stade des Ponts Jumeaux, Toulouse 17,000
8 May 1938 USA Perpignan 11–6 Biarritz Olympique Stade des Ponts Jumeaux, Toulouse 24,600
30 April 1939 Biarritz Olympique 6–0 a.e.t. USA Perpignan Stade des Ponts Jumeaux, Toulouse 23,000
1940 – 1942 Due to World War II, no championship was played
21 March 1943 Aviron Bayonnais 3–0 SU Agen Parc des Princes, Paris 28,000
26 March 1944 USA Perpignan 20–5 Aviron Bayonnais Parc des Princes, Paris 35,000
7 April 1945 SU Agen 7–3 FC Lourdes Parc des Princes, Paris 30,000
24 March 1946 Section Paloise 11–0 FC Lourdes Parc des Princes, Paris 30,000
13 April 1947 Stade Toulousain 10–3 SU Agen Stade des Ponts Jumeaux, Toulouse 25,000
18 April 1948 FC Lourdes 11–3 RC Toulon Stade des Ponts Jumeaux, Toulouse 29,753
22 May 1949 Castres Olympique 14–3[38] Stade Montois Stade des Ponts Jumeaux, Toulouse 23,000
16 April 1950 Castres Olympique 11–8 Racing Club de France Stade des Ponts Jumeaux, Toulouse 25,000
20 May 1951 US Carmaux 14–12 a.e.t. Stadoceste Tarbais Stadium Municipal, Toulouse 39,450
4 May 1952 FC Lourdes 20–11 USA Perpignan Stadium Municipal, Toulouse 32,500
17 May 1953 FC Lourdes 21–16 Stade Montois Stadium Municipal, Toulouse 32,500
23 May 1954 FC Grenoble 5–3 US Cognac Stadium Municipal, Toulouse 34,230
22 May 1955 USA Perpignan 11–6 FC Lourdes Parc Lescure, Bordeaux 39,764
3 June 1956 FC Lourdes 20–0 US Dax Stadium Municipal, Toulouse 38,426
26 May 1957 FC Lourdes 16–13 Racing Club de France Stade Gerland, Lyon 30,000
18 May 1958 FC Lourdes 25–8 SC Mazamet Stadium Municipal, Toulouse 37,164
24 May 1959 Racing Club de France 8–3 Stade Montois Parc Lescure, Bordeaux 31,098
22 May 1960 FC Lourdes 14–11 AS Béziers Stadium Municipal, Toulouse 37,200
28 May 1961 AS Béziers 6–3 US Dax Stade de Gerland, Lyon 35,000
27 May 1962 SU Agen 14–11 AS Béziers Stadium Municipal, Toulouse 37,705
2 June 1963 Stade Montois 9–6 US Dax Parc Lescure, Bordeaux 39,000
24 May 1964 Section Paloise 14–0 AS Béziers Stadium Municipal, Toulouse 27.797
23 May 1965 SU Agen 15–8 CA Brive Stade Gerland, Lyon 28,758
22 May 1966 SU Agen 9–8 US Dax Stadium Municipal, Toulouse 28,803
28 May 1967 US Montauban 11–3 CA Béglais Parc Lescure, Bordeaux 32,115
16 June 1968 FC Lourdes 9–9 a.e.t.[39] RC Toulon Stadium Municipal, Toulouse 28,526
18 May 1969 CA Béglais 11–9 Stade Toulousain Stade Gerland, Lyon 22,191
17 May 1970 La Voulte Sportif 3–0 AS Montferrand Stadium Municipal, Toulouse 35,000
16 May 1971 AS Béziers 15–9 a.e.t. RC Toulon Parc Lescure, Bordeaux 27,737
21 May 1972 AS Béziers 9–0 CA Brive Stade Gerland, Lyon 31,161
20 May 1973 Stadoceste Tarbais 18–12 US Dax Stadium Municipal, Toulouse 26,952
12 May 1974 AS Béziers 16–14 RC Narbonne Parc des Princes, Paris 40,609
18 May 1975 AS Béziers 13–12 CA Brive Parc des Princes, Paris 39,991
23 May 1976 SU Agen 13–10 a.e.t. AS Béziers Parc des Princes, Paris 40,300
29 May 1977 AS Béziers 12–4 USA Perpignan Parc des Princes, Paris 41,821
28 May 1978 AS Béziers 31–9 AS Montferrand Parc des Princes, Paris 42,004
27 May 1979 RC Narbonne 10–0 Stade Bagnérais Parc des Princes, Paris 41,981
25 May 1980 AS Béziers 10–6 Stade Toulousain Parc des Princes, Paris 43,350
23 May 1981 AS Béziers 22–13 Stade Bagnérais Parc des Princes, Paris 44,106
29 May 1982 SU Agen 18–9 Aviron Bayonnais Parc des Princes, Paris 41,165
28 May 1983 AS Béziers 14–6 RRC Nice Parc des Princes, Paris 43,100
26 May 1984 AS Béziers 21–21 a.e.t.[40] SU Agen Parc des Princes, Paris 44,076
25 May 1985 Stade Toulousain 36–22 a.e.t. RC Toulon Parc des Princes, Paris 37,000
24 May 1986 Stade Toulousain 16–6 SU Agen Parc des Princes, Paris 45,145
22 May 1987 RC Toulon 15–12 Racing Club de France Parc des Princes, Paris 48,000
28 May 1988 SU Agen 9–3 Stadoceste Tarbais Parc des Princes, Paris 48,000
27 May 1989 Stade Toulousain 18–12 RC Toulon Parc des Princes, Paris 48,000
26 May 1990 Racing Club de France 22–12 a.e.t. SU Agen Parc des Princes, Paris 45,069
1 June 1991 CA Bordeaux-Bègles Gironde 19–10 Stade Toulousain Parc des Princes, Paris 48,000
6 June 1992 RC Toulon 19–14 Biarritz Olympique Parc des Princes, Paris 48,000
5 June 1993 Castres Olympique 14–11 FC Grenoble Parc des Princes, Paris 48,000
28 May 1994 Stade Toulousain 22–16 AS Montferrand Parc des Princes, Paris 48,000
6 May 1995 Stade Toulousain 31–16 Castres Olympique Parc des Princes, Paris 48,615
1 June 1996 Stade Toulousain 20–13 CA Brive Parc des Princes, Paris 48,162
31 May 1997 Stade Toulousain 12–6 CS Bourgoin-Jallieu Parc des Princes, Paris 44,000
16 May 1998 Stade Français 34–7 USA Perpignan Stade de France, Saint-Denis 78,000
29 May 1999 Stade Toulousain 15–11 AS Montferrand Stade de France, Saint-Denis 78,000
15 July 2000 Stade Français 28–23 US Colomiers Stade de France, Saint-Denis 45,000
9 June 2001 Stade Toulousain 34–22 AS Montferrand Stade de France, Saint-Denis 78,000
8 June 2002 Biarritz Olympique 25–22 a.e.t. SU Agen Stade de France, Saint-Denis 78,457
7 June 2003 Stade Français 32–18 Stade Toulousain Stade de France, Saint-Denis 78,000
26 June 2004 Stade Français 38–20 USA Perpignan Stade de France, Saint-Denis 79,722
11 June 2005 Biarritz Olympique 37–34 a.e.t.[41] Stade Français Stade de France, Saint-Denis 79,475
10 June 2006 Biarritz Olympique 40–13 Stade Toulousain Stade de France, Saint-Denis 79,474
9 June 2007 Stade Français 23–18 ASM Clermont Auvergne Stade de France, Saint-Denis 79,654
28 June 2008 Stade Toulousain 26–20 ASM Clermont Auvergne Stade de France, Saint-Denis 79,275[42]
6 June 2009 USA Perpignan 22–13 ASM Clermont Auvergne Stade de France, Saint-Denis 79,205[43]
29 May 2010 ASM Clermont Auvergne 19–6 USA Perpignan Stade de France, Saint-Denis 79,262[44]
4 June 2011 Stade Toulousain 15–10 Montpellier Hérault Rugby Stade de France, Saint-Denis 77,000[45]
9 June 2012 Stade Toulousain 18–12 RC Toulon Stade de France, Saint-Denis 79,612
1 June 2013 Castres Olympique 19–14 RC Toulon Stade de France, Saint-Denis 80,033[46]
31 May 2014 RC Toulon 18–10 Castres Olympique Stade de France, Saint-Denis 80,174[47]
13 June 2015 Stade Français 12–6 ASM Clermont Auvergne Stade de France, Saint-Denis 79,000[48]
24 June 2016 Racing 92 29–21 RC Toulon Camp Nou, Barcelona [r 1] 99,124[50]
4 June 2017 ASM Clermont Auvergne 22–16 RC Toulon Stade de France, Saint-Denis 79,771[51]
2 June 2018 Castres Olympique 29–13 Montpellier Hérault Rugby Stade de France, Saint-Denis 78,441[52]
  1. ^ The 2016 final was moved to Barcelona as the final clashed with UEFA Euro 2016, and therefore no stadium with sufficient capacity was available to host the final in France. Accordingly, LNR chose Camp Nou as the venue.[49]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b "Brennus, les 26 clubs sacrés !" (in French). LNR. 29 May 2014. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  2. ^ AFP (28 January 2007). "Le Stade Français sort vainqueur du choc contre Toulouse". Le Monde (in French).
  3. ^ LNR. "Statistiques generales 2010–2011" (in French). Archived from the original on 31 May 2012.
  4. ^ Belsoeur, Camille (11 05, 2011). "Droits TV: comment Canal+ a recadré le rugby français". L'Expansion (in French). Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. ^ Mortimer, Gavin (18 August 2016). "French rugby enjoys a popularity boom as it looks to the future". Rugby World. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  6. ^ "Racing 92 and Stade Francais to merge to form Paris super club". ESPN (UK). 13 March 2017. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Stade Francais players vote to strike over Racing 92 merger plan". ESPN (UK). 14 March 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  8. ^ "Emergency meeting called over Stade Francais-Racing 92 merger". ESPN (UK). PA Sport. 15 March 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  9. ^ "Racing 92-Stade Francais merger collapses amid resistance". ESPN (UK). 19 March 2017. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  10. ^ "La U Arena devient Paris La Défense Arena" [The U Arena becomes Paris La Défense Arena] (Press release) (in French). Paris La Défense Arena. 12 June 2018. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  11. ^ "R92 vs ST à la U Arena - La billetterie est ouverte !" [R92 vs. ST at U Arena - The ticket office is open!] (Press release) (in French). Racing 92. 25 October 2017. Archived from the original on 16 November 2017. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  12. ^ "Racing Family : U Arena" (in French). Racing 92. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  13. ^ Raveney, Chris (11 May 2011). "Canal Plus retains Top 14 with multi-million dollar deal". sportspromedia.com.
  14. ^ Cleary, Mick (10 February 2009). "Top English rugby talent lured by Euro". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
  15. ^ Renaud (16 August 2011). "Toulouse toujours le plus gros budget du Top 14" (in French). rencontresaxv.fr.
  16. ^ Crumley, Bruce (16 May 2010). "Gloom over French Soccer Contrasts With Rugby's Rise". Time.
  17. ^ Dearlove, Paul (22 November 2010). "Paul Dearlove column: Up to 50 foreign stars could be heading to Top 14 for next season". frenchrugbyclub.com.
  18. ^ Clegg, Jonathan (14 January 2011). "French Rugby Rules Europe". The Wall Street Journal.
  19. ^ a b Moriarty, Ian (2009-11-11). "French rugby heading for crisis". Scrum.com. Retrieved 2009-11-12.
  20. ^ a b "Top 14 set for salary cap". Scrum.com. 2009-12-17. Retrieved 2009-12-19.
  21. ^ Moriarty, Ian (2009-12-18). "Salary cap just sleight of hand". Scrum.com. Retrieved 2009-12-19.
  22. ^ "Salary cap up to €8.7m". frenchrugbyclub.com. 2011-03-22. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
  23. ^ "French rugby chiefs agree salary cap rise". ESPN Scrum. 2013-04-17. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
  24. ^ a b c Mortimer, Gavin (12 April 2016). "French rugby looking to close foreign player loopholes". Rugby World. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  25. ^ Eddison, Paul (2013-12-04). "Rugby's uncordiale entente". ESPN Scrum. Retrieved 2015-04-28.
  26. ^ "Bourgoin maintenu en Top 14" (in French). 9 July 2010. Archived from the original on 11 July 2010. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  27. ^ Moriarty, Ian (2010-07-06). "Time to hit the panic button?". Scrum.com. Retrieved 2010-07-06.
  28. ^ Moriarty, Ian (2013-05-15). "The multi-national tricolour". ESPN Scrum. Retrieved 2013-05-17.
  29. ^ Mortimer, Gavin (17 February 2015). "Six Nations: The root of France's problems". Rugby World. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  30. ^ a b c "Future of European Rugby resolved" (Press release). Rugby Football Union. 10 April 2014. Archived from the original on 25 May 2014. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
  31. ^ Jones, Chris (24 September 2014). "Rugby Union: Change to Champions Cup play-offs". BBC Radio 5 Live. BBC Sport. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  32. ^ Only 2 clubs took part. Match account in French Archived 26 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ The title was awarded after a round-robin with 5 clubs. Stade Français won with 10 points, Olympique de Paris was second with 8.
  34. ^ The title was awarded after a round-robin with 6 clubs. Stade Français won with 10 points, Racing was second with 6.
  35. ^ The first time provincial teams were invited.
  36. ^ Stade Bordelais won the final 3–0, but the U.S.F.S.A. which organized the competition declared the final null and void and ordered a replay in Paris as Stade Bordelais had fielded three ineligible players; however, the replay was scratched and Stade Français were awarded the championship after the Bordeaux side refused to participate in the replay.
  37. ^ A first final, played on 26 April 1925 in Toulouse, had ended on a 0–0 a.e.t. Archived 6 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  38. ^ A first final played on 15 May 1949 at Stade des Ponts Jumeaux in Toulouse had ended on a 3–3 draw (a.e.t.) Archived 25 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  39. ^ Because of the May 1968 events, the finale was played three weeks later than scheduled. The score was 6–6 after regulation time expired, and 9–9 after extra-time expired, but it was impossible to schedule a replay due to France leaving to tour to New Zealand and South Africa, so FC Lourdes were declared champions because they had scored 2 tries to Toulon’s zero in the final.
  40. ^ Béziers won 3 goal-kicks to 1.
  41. ^ The highest scoring final ever.
  42. ^ "Top 14 Finale : Clermont-Auvergne – Toulouse". L'Équipe (in French). 2008-06-24. Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  43. ^ "Top 14 Finale : Perpignan – Clermont". L'Équipe (in French). 2009-06-06. Retrieved 2009-06-06.
  44. ^ "Top 14 Finale : Perpignan – Clermont". L'Équipe (in French). 2010-05-29. Retrieved 2010-05-29.
  45. ^ "Top 14 Finale : Toulouse – Montpellier". 'L'Équipe (in French). 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2011-06-10.
  46. ^ "Castres, vingt ans après". 'L'Équipe (in French). 2013-06-01. Retrieved 2013-06-02.
  47. ^ "Toulon 18 – 10 Castres". L'Équipe. 31 May 2014. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  48. ^ "Stade Français - Clermont (12-6)". L'Équipe. 13 June 2015. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  49. ^ "La Finale 2016 du TOP 14 au Camp Nou, à Barcelone !" (Press release) (in French). Ligue nationale de rugby. 4 November 2014. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  50. ^ Bergogne, Romain (24 June 2016). "En battant Toulon, le Racing 92 est sacré champion de France". L'Équipe (in French). Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  51. ^ Escot, Richard (4 June 2017). "Clermont champion de France après sa victoire contre Toulon" [Clermont champion of France after victory against Toulon]. L'Équipe (in French). Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  52. ^ "Montpellier 13 – 29 Castres". Midi Libre (in French). 2 June 2018. Retrieved 6 June 2018.

External links

2006–07 Top 14 season

The 2006–07 Top 14 competition was the 108th French domestic rugby union club competition operated by the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) and the 2nd using the name Top 14. Biarritz were out to defend their crown, after their defeat of Toulouse in the 2005-06 Top 14 final. New teams to the league included Albi and Montauban who were promoted from 2004–05 Pro D2, replacing relegated sides Toulon and Pau. During the season attendance records in the league were once again broken with 79,741 attending the Round 19 clash between Stade Français and Toulouse at the Stade de France, and over 2 million supporters attended games across the campaign.

In the league Stade Français jumped out to an early lead, winning their first nine matches. Although they faded somewhat as the season went on, they held on to top the regular-season ladder. Toulouse and Clermont each entered the final week with a chance to top the ladder, but Stade Français' win over Agen (without a bonus point) made it impossible for Clermont to overtake them, while Toulouse failed to secure the bonus point in their win over Bourgoin that would have made it possible for them to pip the Parisians for the top seed. The last playoff berth came down to the last round between Biarritz and Perpignan, with Biarritz securing fourth place in style with a bonus-point win over Castres.

The final Heineken Cup berth came down to the last round as well, with Bourgoin holding off the challenge of Top 14 newcomers Montauban. The relegation battle came down to the last week. Narbone had been assured of the drop after Round 25, while any of six other clubs were in mathematical danger of the drop going into the final week. In the end, Agen, who were next-to-last entering the final week, were consigned to the drop by league leaders Stade Français. Both clubs would be relegated to the 2007–08 Pro D2.

The play-offs saw Stade Français and Clermont win their respective semi-finals to qualify for the final. In the end it was Stade Français who lifted the Bouclier de Brennus as Top 14 champions for the 13th time in the clubs history, beating Clermont 23-18 at the Stade de France.

2008–09 Top 14 season

The 2008–09 Top 14 Competition was a French domestic rugby union club competition operated by the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR). It ran from late August 2008 through the final at Stade de France on June 6, 2009, in which Perpignan lifted the Bouclier de Brennus with a 22–13 win over Clermont.

This year's edition of the Top 14 welcomed Toulon, winners of the 2008 title in the second-level Pro D2, and Mont-de-Marsan, victors in the 2008 promotion playoffs between the second- through fifth-place teams in Pro D2. They took the place of Auch and Albi, relegated at the end of the 2007–08 Top 14. Auch, which had been promoted to the Top 14 for 2007–08, finished bottom of the table and went down. The other newly promoted team in 2007–08, Dax, finished second-from-bottom, but were reprieved when French sporting authorities forcibly relegated 12th-place Albi to Pro D2 due to financial issues.

2010–11 Top 14 season

The 2010–11 Top 14 competition was a French domestic rugby union club competition operated by the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR). Home-and-away play began on August 13, 2010 and continued through April 2011. The regular season was followed by a three-round playoff starting in May that involved the top six teams, culminating in the final on June 4 at Stade de France. Toulouse won the Bouclier de Brennus for the 18th time, defeating Montpellier 15–10.

2013–14 Top 14 season

The 2013–14 Top 14 competition is a French domestic rugby union club competition operated by the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR). Two new teams from the 2012–13 Pro D2 season were promoted to Top 14 this year, Oyonnax and Brive in place of the two relegated teams, Agen and Mont-de-Marsan. Home-and-away play began on 16 August 2013 and continued through to 3 May 2014.The regular season was very closely fought, with a record few away wins, but ended up with the same six teams qualifying for the play-offs as the previous year. Toulon topped the table for the first time, one point clear of second-placed Montpellier, whilst defending champions Castres just managed to hold on to the last qualifying spot, finishing in sixth. At the other end of the table, Biarritz had a nightmarish season, spending virtually the whole year in the relegation zone, and finished bottom, while Perpignan, who had been in the top tier of French rugby since 1911, were also relegated. Oyonnax and Brive finished 12th and 9th, respectively, marking the first time since 2007 that both newly promoted teams managed to keep their places in the Top 14.

The quarter-final stage saw two major upsets, with Racing Métro avenging their loss from the previous year with a 21–16 away win at Toulouse, whose run of twenty consecutive semi-final appearances thus came to end, while Castres put an end to Clermont's record streak of 77 straight wins at Stade Marcel Michelin with a 22–16 win. This is the first time that both quarterfinals have resulted in away wins.

2018–19 Top 14 season

The 2018–19 Top 14 competition is the 120th French domestic rugby union club competition operated by the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR). Two new teams from the 2017–18 Pro D2 season were promoted to Top 14 (Perpignan and Grenoble) in place of the two relegated teams, Oyonnax and Brive.

American Idol (season 16)

The sixteenth season of American Idol premiered on March 11, 2018, on the ABC television network. It is the show's first season to air on ABC, after 15 years on Fox. Ryan Seacrest continued his role as the show's host, while Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie joined as judges. Maddie Poppe from Clarksville, Iowa won the season on May 21, 2018, while her boyfriend Caleb Lee Hutchinson was the runner-up, and Gabby Barrett finished in third place. Poppe was the first female winner since Candice Glover in season twelve.

European Rugby Challenge Cup

The European Rugby Challenge Cup is an annual European rugby union competition organised by European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR). It is the second-tier competition for European clubs behind the European Rugby Champions Cup. From its inception in 1996 to 2014, it was known as the European Challenge Cup and governed by European Rugby Cup (ERC). Following disagreements in the structure of the tournament's format and division of revenue, the English and French leagues withdrew to form the EPCR, which has organized the Challenge Cup and the Champions Cup since the 2014–15 season.The Challenge Cup is contested between 20 teams; 18 qualifying from the three main European domestic leagues (Premiership Rugby, Top 14, and Pro14), and two qualifying from the Continental Shield competition between teams from second-tier level Rugby Europe nations.

Cardiff Blues are the current Challenge Cup holders, having won the 2017-18 European Rugby Challenge Cup.

FC Grenoble

Football Club de Grenoble Alpes Rugby is a French rugby union club which will be playing in Top 14, the top level of the French league system. After a title of champions of the second-level Pro D2 in 2012, Grenoble played 4 seasons in Top 14 before suffering relegation after 2016-17 season. At the end of the 2017-18 Pro D2 season, Grenoble was promoted again to Top 14 for the 2018-19 season, following an promotion playoff win against Top 14 side Oyonnax.

Grenoble play most home matches at the Stade des Alpes (capacity 20,068) since 2014-2015. The club's colors are red and blue.

Lyon OU

Lyon Olympique Universitaire or LOU is a French rugby union team based in Lyon that currently competes in the Top 14, the highest level of the country's professional league system, having been most recently promoted for the 2016–17 season after winning the 2015–16 title of the second-level Pro D2. The club has bounced between the top two levels in recent years, having also been promoted in 2011 and 2014 and relegated in 2012 and 2015.

They were founded in 1896 and play in red and black. In 2011, the team left the Stade Vuillermet to the new Matmut Stadium. In 2017 the team moved to the Matmut Stadium de Gerland.

Montpellier Hérault Rugby

Montpellier Hérault Rugby (French pronunciation: ​[mɔ̃.pə.lje eʁo ʁʊɡbi klʊb]) (Occitan: Montpelhièr Erau Rugbi Club) is a French professional rugby union club, based in Montpellier, Occitania and named after the Hérault river. The club competes in the top level of the French league system, the Top 14. They originally played at Stade Sabathé (capacity 5,000) but moved to the Stade Yves-du-Manoir, later known as Altrad Stadium, and since renamed the GGL Stadium, in 2007. They wear white and blue.

Morné Steyn

Morné Steyn (born 11 July 1984 in Cape Town) is a South African rugby union player who plays at the Flyhalf position.

He plays at number 10 for the Springboks internationally, as well as for Stade Français in the French Top 14 competition.

He previously played Super Rugby for the Bulls and was a member of the team that won the 2007, 2009 and 2010 Super Rugby competitions, ending both the 2009 and 2010 seasons as the leading point scorer and setting a record of 4 drop goals in one single match, in the 2009 semi-final against the Crusaders.In May 2013 it was announced that he would join the French Top 14 club, Stade Français. He made his début on Friday 30 August 2013 in a 38 - 3 victory against Biarritz Olympique. Coming on in the 60th minute, he scored 4 points by converting two tries.Steyn has won an U-21 World Cup, 2 Currie Cups, 3 Super rugby titles, 1 Tri-Nations and a French Top 14 title.

Oyonnax Rugby

Union sportive Oyonnax Rugby is a French rugby union club from Oyonnax [ɔ.jɔ.na] in the Ain département of the région Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, currently playing in the Top 14, elite 1st division of the country's professional rugby system, Top 14. They play at Stade Charles-Mathon (capacity 11,400). They wear black and red.

RC Toulonnais

Rugby Club Toulonnais (French pronunciation: ​[ʁyɡbi klœb tulɔnɛ]), also known as RCT but usually Toulon; Occitan: Rugbi Club Tolonenc) is a French professional rugby union club based in Toulon in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. A current participant in the first-tier Top 14 competition, they have won the national competition on four occasions.

Established in 1908, Toulon currently play their home games at the Stade Mayol, although they have begun to take high-profile matches to the 60,000-seat Stade Vélodrome in Marseille, playing one match there in 2008–09 and two in both 2009–10 and 2010–11. The club colours are red and black. Toulon were Pro D2 champions in 2005, but after finishing 14th in the 2005-06 Top 14 season, they were relegated back down. After signing a number of high-profile players, the club made a strong run at promotion in the 2006–07 season, and succeeded in their promotion quest in 2007–08, winning that season's Pro D2 crown with two rounds to spare. They struggled to avoid relegation for much of the 2008–09 Top 14 season, but a late-season surge brought them to ninth place and safety.

Their 2009–10 Top 14 season was more successful, with a second-place regular-season finish and a semi-final place domestically and a runner-up finish in the 2009–10 European Challenge Cup. In 2012, they again advanced to the Challenge Cup final, losing to Biarritz, and advanced to the Top 14 final, losing to Toulouse. In May 2013 Toulon won the 2013 Heineken Cup Final by 16–15 against Clermont Auvergne, and lost the Top 14 Final against Castres in June. They retained the Heineken Cup with a 23–6 win over Saracens in May 2014. They added a historic 3rd win in a row with a 24–18 win over Clermont in the 2015 final.

Rugby Pro D2

Rugby Pro D2, also known as Pro D2 is the second tier of rugby union club competition division in France. It is operated by Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) which also runs the division directly above, the first division Top 14. Rugby Pro D2 was introduced in 2000.

Rugby union in France

Rugby union in France is a popular team sport. Rugby union was first introduced in the early 1870s by British residents. Elite French clubs participate in the professional domestic club league, the Top 14. Clubs also compete in the European knock-out competition, the European Rugby Champions Cup, which replaced the Heineken Cup from 2014–15.

The national side competes annually in the Six Nations Championship, last winning the competition in 2010. France has participated in every Rugby World Cup since its inception in 1987, and has been a runner-up on three occasions. France also hosted the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

France is the world's most populous country in which rugby union has a large and dedicated following, with over 65 million people. It is more than the populations of other popular rugby nations such as New Zealand, Australia, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales combined.

Stade Français

Stade Français Paris (French pronunciation: ​[stad fʁɑ̃sɛ]) is a French professional rugby union club based in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. The club plays in the Top 14 domestic league in France and is one of the most successful French clubs of the modern era. Stade Français was founded in 1883. It was founded in its current form in 1995 with the merger of the rugby sections of the Stade Français and Club Athlétique des Sports Généraux (CASG).

Its traditional home is Stade Jean-Bouin, though the club has recently played some home games at the 80,000-seat Stade de France, taking anywhere from two to five matches to the larger venue each season since 2005–06. From 2010 to 2013, the team played temporarily at the 20,000-capacity Stade Charléty in Paris to allow a new stadium to be built at the Jean-Bouin site.

The team participated in the first French championship final in 1892, and went on to win numerous titles during the early 1900s. Stade Français spent about 50 years in the lower divisions of French rugby, until entrepreneur Max Guazzini took over in 1992, overseeing a rise to prominence, which saw the team returning to the elite division in just five seasons, and capture four French championships in seven years. After a financial crisis plagued the club in 2011, Guazzini sold a majority stake and stepped down as club president.

From 2009 to 2015, the team struggles, failing to reach the final phases. 2015 marked a rebirth for them, as the team reached the final phases and won three games in row, against Racing Métro, Toulon and Clermont and won also Top 14.

Stade Rochelais

Stade Rochelais [stad ʁɔʃ.lɛ], commonly called La Rochelle, is a French rugby union club who compete in the Top 14.

They were founded in 1898 and play at Stade Marcel-Deflandre (capacity 16,000). They wear yellow and black. They are based in La Rochelle in the Charente-Maritime département of the New Aquitaine region.

Stade Vélodrome

The Stade Vélodrome (French pronunciation: ​[stad velɔdʁom]), known as the Orange Vélodrome for sponsorship reasons, is a multi-purpose stadium in Marseille, France. It is home to the Olympique de Marseille football club of Ligue 1 since it opened in 1937, and was a venue in the 1998 FIFA World Cup, the 2007 Rugby World Cup and the UEFA Euro 2016. It occasionally hosts RC Toulon rugby club of the Top 14. It is the largest club football ground in France, with a capacity of 67,344 spectators. The stadium is also used regularly by the France national rugby union team.

The record attendance for a club game before renovation at the Stade Vélodrome was 58,897 (for a UEFA Cup semi-final against Newcastle United in 2004). Since expansion to 67,394, the record attendance at the ground now stands at 65,252 for the match vs rivals PSG that occurred on February 26, 2017. The stadium was also featured as a FIFA World Cup venue when the 1938 finals were held in France. The first-ever match to be played was between Marseille and Torino in 1937.

The French rugby union team began an impressive run of victories at the stadium in the early 2000s. They defeated New Zealand 42–33 in November 2000, and in 2001 defeated Australia by one point. They beat South Africa in 2002, followed by a win over England in 2003. However, their run of luck was broken in 2004 when they lost 14–24 to Argentina. The venue was used by France for a game against New Zealand in November 2009. In 2018, the stadium hosted its first Six Nations match with France hosting Italy.

France is not the only rugby team to have used the Vélodrome in recent years. On 18 April 2009, Toulon took their home fixture in the Top 14 against Toulouse to the Vélodrome, drawing 57,039 spectators to see a 14–6 Toulon win which played a key role in the Toulonnais' successful fight against relegation in the 2008–09 season. Toulon has taken two home matches to the Vélodrome in each of the succeeding two seasons. The Vélodrome was also the venue for both semi-finals in the 2010–11 Top 14 season, and was used for the Toulon v Munster semi-final of the 2013–14 Heineken Cup.

Union Bordeaux Bègles

Union Bordeaux Bègles (French: [ynjɔ̃ bɔʁdo bɛɡl]; Occitan: Union Bordèu Begla) is a French rugby union team playing in the Top 14, the first level of the country's professional league system. They earned their Top 14 place by winning the promotion playoffs that followed the 2010–11 season in the second-level Rugby Pro D2. Upon promotion to the Top 14 in 2011, they were assured a place in the European Challenge Cup.

In 2015, they earned their European Champions Cup place, after winning the European playoffs against Gloucester Rugby in Worcester.

They were founded in 2006 as a result of a merger between two Bordeaux clubs, Stade Bordelais and Club Athlétique Bordeaux-Bègles Gironde. They wear claret (in French: bordeaux) and white. They are based in Bordeaux (New Aquitaine), and play at the Stade Chaban-Delmas. The two teams which amalgamated cumulated nine championship titles of France: seven for the Stade Bordelais and two for the Club Athlétique Bordeaux-Bègles Gironde. Since 2006 and the amalgamation, the club competed in Pro D2 until winning the 2011 promotion playoffs. UBB drew an average home attendance of 23,689 in the 2014/2015 Top 14 season.

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