French round-up: Elite Championship play-off picture confirmed

James Gordon

Photo: MM Photographie

Fans returned to the French Elite Championship at the weekend, and saw St Esteve suffer another defeat to  a play-off rival, as Lezignan beat them 22-20.

Lezignan led 12-10 at half-time and although St Esteve turned things round to lead 20-16, Antoni Maria’s converted try handed the hosts victory and meant they secured second place ahead of St Esteve and a bye to the semi-finals.

Avignon completed their regular season with a hard-fought 52-30 win over St Gaudens.

The Elite 1 Championship basement boys led 30-24 in the second half, before Louis Jouffret inspired a comeback to hand the Bisons victory.

Play-off picture

With two regular season fixtures to be played this week, both involving St Gaudens, the play-off picture is now known.

Carcassonne finish top of the table and go straight through to a home play-off semi-final, along with Lezignan.

St Esteve’s late slip means they will take on Villeneuve in the first round of the play-offs, on Sunday June 6, with Limoux hosting Avignon on June 5.

The winner of Limoux against Avignon will travel to Carcassonne, with Lezignan welcoming either St Esteve or Villeneuve on the weekend of June 12/13.

Elite 2 Championship news

Lescure have confirmed the appointment of Romain Dintihac as their new head coach. He replaces Fabien Denis, who has taken the Minotaurs to three Elite 2 Championship finals.

Tonneins XIII have expressed an interest in going up to the Elite 2 Championship, as the French Federation continues to assess an increase in numbers in both divisions. Former Paris St Germain Super League centre Eric Vergniol is president, and he said: “Our ambition is to continue to structure the club and to be able to climb to Elite 2, while keeping the youth categories but I know that it will not be easy.”

Meanwhile, Ille will make a return to Elite 2 Championship having sat out last season. The Margalet brothers, currently at Lezignan, are being linked with involvement.

Elite 1 Championship results

  • Avignon 52-30 St Gaudens
  • Lezignan 22-0 St Esteve

Elite 1 Championship remaining regular season fixtures

  • Carcassonne v St Gaudens (Wed, 6.30pm UK)
  • St Gaudens v Villeneuve (Sat, 2.30pm)

Elite 1 Championship play-offs

  • Limoux v Avignon – June 5
  • St Esteve v Villeneuve – June 6
  • Carcassonne v Limoux/Avignon – June 12
  • Lezignan v St Esteve/Villeneuve – June 13
  • Grand Final – June 20