A young Toulouse side have been told they must win their semi-final again to reach the French Cup final after a blunder by the French Federation.
Toulouse had been due to face Carcassonne in the Luc Nitard U19 matches cup final last weekend, as part of a finals day at Stade Gilbert Brutus which saw Carcassonne’s first team win the Lord Derby Cup.
But they will now have to replay their semi-final, which they originally won 32-12, against Lezignan this Saturday.
It came about following some confusion regarding player eligibility for the semi-finals, with Lezignan asking the question whether players who had played more than nine Elite One Championship matches were permitted to play in Under 19s finals.
Given their presence in the RFL Championship, a number of the Toulouse Under 19s players have turned out in their senior Elite One Championship squad this season.
The source of the confusion was initially unclear, as the regulations clearly state that any first team member can also play with the Under 19s category as long as they are eligible.
Conflicting advice and human error
According to reports from TreizeMondial, a letter was written to French Federation president Luc Lacoste who confirmed that the ‘nine matches’ rule doesn’t exist.
But the confusion came from a comment made by the FFR’s secretary general, Dominique Baloup, who Lezignan say told them that if players with more than nine matches in Elite One Championship played, they would effectively forfeit the match.
Lezignan ultimately didn’t take the risk and then after they lost the match, lodged a complaint. It was initially thrown out, but they then issued an appeal.
A decision was made to order a replay of the semi-final, just five days before the final was due to be played.
A FFR statement said the decision of the Superior Commission of Appeal based its decision on a “break of equality in the face of information between the Clubs “, following an ” erroneous reading of the General Regulations of the Federation.”
TreizeMondial reporter Nicolas Jacquemard said: “How could the president and the general manager of the Federation have been mistaken on a regulation which does not seem to be indecipherable?
“To err is human, Lézignan also made a bad reading of it, but the process to enlighten the clubs on the points of the general regulations must be reviewed to prevent this from happening again.
“In the meantime, the two clubs have to replay this semi-final before playing a final in relative anonymity, far from the fervor that could have expected them at Gilbert Brutus last Saturday.”
Toulouse and Lezignan Under 19s will go head to head at Municipal Stadium in Villegailhenc this weekend for the chance to face Carcassonne, who beat Carpentras 29-28 in a thrilling semi-final earlier this month.
A crowd of 4,102 watched Carcassonne’s senior team win the Lord Derby Cup, beating Albi 38-12 in the final at the home of Catalans Dragons last Saturday. Two junior cup finals were played before the main event, with Baho (Under 17s) and Salon (Under 15s) coming out on top.