On paper, the poster for the 13th day of Top 14, Sunday (21:00) between the French Stadium, the biggest budget in the championship, Toulouse, defending champion, is enticing. In reality, the shock between the last and the fourth, unbeaten since October, seems more disproportionate.
. A faded "Clasico"?
"It is certain that, when we look at the classification, it is complicated to say that we are on the same level as them. Toulouse is champion of France. We were eighth last season. They are 4th this year, we are last. There is no photo, "admitted Julien Arias, the Parisian three-quarter trainer.
But, to believe Kylan Hamdaoui, this match between Parisians and Toulousains "falls at the right time". "We're getting better, it will be a real test, a real challenge," said the rear of the Roses. Because if it remains last, the French Stadium has not lost since two games (victory against Pau 21-18, draw at Montpellier 20-20) and has managed to relaunch in the race for maintenance.
Better still, the Toulouse stadium was heckled by Toulon (13-13) at the end of 2019 and will face, in an almost full Jean-Bouin stadium, a team with full confidence.
"Stade Français - Stade Toulousain or Stade Toulousain - Stade Français always have a special flavor, even today," said Toulouse defense coach Laurent Thuery.
"They are waiting for him. They have prepared this match as it should be. There are side events. They will have this extra motivation," he added. A victory would allow the Roses to let go of the red lantern place they have occupied since the start of the season.
. Racing must confirm
The moment when ever. Racing 92, currently 7th, has alternated between good and bad since the start of the season. The coming of the ASM will therefore be an opportunity to confirm the good dynamics of the Ile-de-France club, which ended the year with a series of four successes, all competitions combined.
For that, it will be necessary to respond to the physical impact imposed by the Jaunards as much as to their offensive activity. The Racingmen have the weapons to retort and complete the first leg on a positive note. Especially since the international François Trinh-Duc made, against Brive last week, his first steps in the sky and white jersey after four months of absence.
. Castres, first?
The only elite team not to have taken a point away, the OC moves to Toulon with the secret hope of surprising the team in the form of the moment. The RCT has won four of its last five matches before hanging Toulouse (13-13) at home.
Good news for the Tarnais, their powerful Fijian winger Filipo Nakosi, back out of shape from the Japanese World Cup, returns to the field. The opportunity to silence the statistics: Castres has won only one of its last five confrontations against Toulonnais (20-19 in 2017). With full confidence, the RCT will want to start 2020 as it finished 2019.
. Remote duel between UBB and LOU
Bordeaux-Bègles (42 points) and Lyon (40 points) prance at the top of the championship. It is the Lyons dolphins that will shoot first, as of Saturday (3.30pm), with a trip within their reach in Agen. The SUA, 13th, has already fallen three times at home and will have to show something other than against La Rochelle (40-8) if it wants to go up the slope.
After a good start to the season, Bayonne, 11th and beaten heavily by ... Lyon (52-9), returned to the ranks. The trip to the leader, who has not lost since October 19, looks complicated for the Basques. No question therefore for the UBB to overuse this meeting, Christophe Urios having promised "seriousness".
(3.30 p.m.) Agen - Lyon
(5:45 p.m.) Racing 92 - Clermont
(8:45 p.m.) Bordeaux-Bègles - Bayonne
Montpellier - Brive
Pau - La Rochelle
(6:00 p.m.) Toulon - Castres
(9:00 p.m.) Stade Français - Toulouse
© 2020 AFP