Four play for place in French Elite Championship Grand Final

James Gordon
Stade Ernest Wallon, Toulouse

Stade Ernest Wallon is the home of Toulouse Olympique

A place in the French Elite Championship Grand Final is up for grabs this weekend.

Minor premiers Carcassonne welcome Avignon on Saturday (3pm UK), with the winner going through to the final in Toulouse, where they will face the winner of Lezignan’s clash with St Esteve (Sunday, 3pm UK).

Despite losing Tony Gigot and Pat Moran to the English Championship in recent weeks, Avignon have made it through to the semi-finals after beating Limoux last week, though will face the Canaries as underdogs.

At full strength, the Bisons may well have been favourites to win the entire competition after a fine second half to the campaign.

The two semi-finals will be televised live on viaOccitanie, while fans can also attend at the Stade Albert Domec and Stade Moulin.

Meanwhile, 5,000 fans will be able to attend the final at Stade Ernest Wallon on Sunday June 20.

Avignon recovered from a slow start to beat Limoux 24-22 and book their place in the semi-finals.

Matieu Mayans and Tony Maurel gave the Grizzlies a 10-0 lead but by half time they trailed 20-10 after Sofiane Ghanem’s hat-trick and a Corentin Rey try.

Limoux hit back though through Kyle Trout and by the half hour mark, Eli Levido had levelled the scores again. A penalty nudged Limoux two points in front with 10 minutes left.

Avignon though stole the win when Rey got on the end of Louis Jouffret’s kick, and go through to face Carcassonne.

St Esteve kicked on in the second half to record an ultimately comfortable 43-24 win over Villeneuve, despite trailing 14-9 at half time.

The game remained in the balance for the first period of the second half, as although St Esteve took the lead, the Leopards hit back to then go 20-19 in front.

But once Ugo Perez had taken the score out to 31-24, the Leopards fell away – with perhaps the scoreline not reflecting the closeness of the game for the first 65 minutes.

Dragons coach Justin Murphy said: “Villeneuve is a very good team with experience at the highest level and we knew it would take 80 minutes to win. The pressure was handled very well, our players kept their composure and focus and found a way to win.

“We have shown our resilience and the progress of our team. Our players will certainly keep the memories of this match. We appreciate what foreign players bring to this competition and our players take advantage of the opportunities when we play against them.”

Eric Anselme has turned down the chance to take over as coach at Elite 1 Championship side St Gaudens. The former France international and ex-Albi coach met with the Bears but decided to retain his focus on start-up business myRookie.

Meanwhile, centre Sylvain Masuaute has left St Gaudens and will likely join a Catalan-based club having returned to live in Perpignan.