This weekend sees the French Top 14’s finest battle it out in the semi-finals.
The round kicks off at Stade Marcel-Deflandre where competition giants La Rochelle and Racing 92 will fight for a place in the final.
Racing’s season has been a great one with Laurent Travers’ men managing to oust Toulouse from the number one spot on the log, albeit by a single point. In the current tournament, Racing have won 18 of their 27 fixtures and posted 82 log points overall. In their most recent encounter, in the quarter-finals, they despatched Stade Francais 38-21:
La Rochelle also have much to be proud of this season. Apart from their 3rd place finish on the Top 14 table, they came close to hoisting the 2020/21 Champions Cup, stumbling at the last hurdle in the final against a rampant Toulouse outfit. They posted 78 log points with a win ratio of 65%. In their most recent encounter, however, they fell to Clermont, 25-20:
A massive battle looms in the flyhalf channel where the mercurial talent of Finn Russell will square off against the ample competence of La Rochelle’s Ihaia West. Up front, a titanic clash of the engine rooms is on the cards as Bernard Le Roux and Dominic Bird will go toe-to-toe with Romain Sazy and Will Skelton of La Rochelle – their efforts in the set-piece and broken play will be significant to the final result. It will also be interesting to see how Springbok winger Raymond Rhule fares against the brilliance of Virimi Vakatawa in the outside centre channel.
In the second and final fixture, Toulouse will face Bordeaux at Stade Ernest Wallon in a game the hosts are tipped to make their own.
Toulouse finished second on the log, a hair’s breadth behind Racing, and have once again enjoyed a very successful season with 17 of their 26 fixtures registered as victories. They will take the field with confidence on Saturday as in their last fixture was against this weekend's opponents, Toulouse did enough in that clash to come away 21-10 victors:
Bordeaux’s 16 victories yielded 76 log points in a good season. They will need to pull out all the stops this weekend if they hope to somehow topple Toulouse. The latter, with their momentum and home-ground advantage will shock many if they succumb to the pressure which Bordeaux have shown they are capable of exacting. All in all, however, it should be a contest worth savouring.