The semi-finals of the Top 14 rugby, played for the first time in a unique place at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille, offering a poster of old regulars Friday night between Toulouse and Clermont and a duel between the ambitious novice Saturday Racing- Metro and Montpellier.
National Rugby League (NRL) has decided this season to call the advocates of the last square in Marseille to create the event, which is more in a city ill-gotten rugby, except for a few matches XV France.
In the stands, the bet should be completed globally, although some seats still available for sale Thursday night. On the ground, the show promises to be enticing.
Friday night (21:00), the champion title in France, Clermont, is a fifth consecutive final, a feat never achieved in the modern era.
The Auvergne, who had finally won their first title last year against Perpignan lost finals after ten whose three previous tasted throughout the season, the joys of the status of title holder.
Never fully masters of their subject, they had, like last year, go through the checkpoints to reach the semi-finals. Contrasted with a victory at home to Biarritz (27-17), leading to yet fourteen points at the break.
Opposite the Stade Toulousain has made the reconquest of Brennus Shield, the most successful club in France has raised more since 2008, its first priority, enhanced by the elimination semi-final of the Cup ' Europe face the Irish in Leinster.
After treating their copy during the regular phase, Toulouse have finished top of the rankings and are directly qualified for the semi-finals. They have benefited from three weeks of preparation, against two for Auvergne, to prepare for this shock at the Velodrome.
For the record, Stade Toulousain has never won in Marseille and Clermont have won the last stage in this confrontation face Toulouse in the semi-finals in 2007.
Saturday (4:25 p.m.), the revelation of the season, Montpellier, defies Racing-Métro, very ambitious club Hauts-de-Seine resurrected by the contractor Jacky Lorenzetti and his sporting director Pierre Berbizier, who returns to the finals for the first time in twenty years.
Racingmen and the large workforce, including Sebastien Chabal who had his suspension for his statements on arbitage reduced on appeal, refine their application for two seasons under champion France.
Like Toulouse, they were able, by their regularity, avoid the check dam and are thus given ideal conditions of preparation. They fully intend to impose on young Montpellier overwhelming force of their pack, boat launch game effective if not always spectacular.
Montpellier has already created the feat by reaching the semi-finals in the first season the club coaches Eric Béchu and Fabien Galthié. Twirling in the phase to go, losing ground in the spring, Hérault, guided by their young international , Francois Trinh-Duc and Julien Tomas have been able to provide a final effort against Toulon before going to spring a surprise in Castres in playoff (18-17).
Montpellier will benefit the overwhelming support of the Stade Velodrome and will be released from pressure, determined to create a new exploit against a team beaten mercilessly in the early season (19-36) in the Herault.