PARIS (AFP) – La Rochelle might have qualified for their second successive European Champions Cup final, but a week before that continental showpiece comes a crucial Top 14 match.
Having lost to Toulouse in last year’s Euro final, La Rochelle beat Racing 92 in the semis and will be hoping for better fortunes when they take on Leinster in the final in Marseille on May 28.
Domestically, however, they head into the penultimate round of the regular season one place shy of the leading six clubs in the Top 14, with just that number guaranteed a spot in the end-of-season play-offs.
Coach Ronan O’Gara, the former Ireland fly-half, will surely test the strength in depth of his squad when his team host Stade Francais today.
Skipper Gregory Alldritt, outstanding in the victory over Racing, insisted the side would not be resting on their laurels.
“We’ve got a massive game this weekend in the Top 14,” he said.
Racing coach Laurent Travers, speaking after watching his side fold to La Rochelle, was also under no illusions about the dogfight coming over the next three weeks.
“We have just two Top 14 matches left,” he said. “We’re still not qualified so we have to stay focused on nailing down a top-six spot.”
Nine teams are still in the running for the play-offs.
Montpellier, who play Racing today, currently top the table on 69 points, two ahead of Bordeaux-Begles and Castres.
Racing sit fourth on 66 points, with Lyon (63) and Toulouse (62) presently occupying fifth and sixth.