French round-up: Play-off picture, Vaivai heads to union and Toulouse make it official

James Gordon

Photo: Astreizix

Albi’s faint hopes of reaching the play-offs are over after a 24-14 defeat at home to Palau.

Tries from Bousquet, Chalmey and Parenti had the Broncos 18-4 to the good at half-time, and that proved too high of a mountain for the hosts to climb.

Carcassonne have all but secured their top two berth, which would send them straight to the semi-finals of the play-offs, with a routine 42-14 win over Villeneuve.

Sophien Bitigri scored a try in the opening minute of the match and they didn’t look back from there, leading 20-8 at half time.

Bitigri would go on to score a hat-trick in the match, which the Leopards ended with 12 men following Thomas Lasvenes’ dismissal.

Limoux kept up their push for a top two spot with a 64-0 thrashing of Toulouse.

Coach Maxime Greseque said: “The victory was not easy, it was the players who by their attitudes and their seriousness made it easy. We respected the opponent and took our revenge on the first leg. We have to keep the same mindset and keep working hard.”

The play-off picture

We know who the six teams will be in the French Elite Championship play-offs, with Carcassonne likely to head up the table and claim one of the semi-final spots. They will be joined in the top two by one of St Esteve, Limoux and Lezignan, who will battle for the highest position over the coming weeks with still an outside chance of finishing top. While Avignon and Villeneuve cannot hope for a top two spot, they are guaranteed a play-off place and will want to finish as high up the ladder as possible.

The teams finishing in third and sixth, and fourth and fifth, will play each other, with the two winners going on to face those teams who finish first and second for a place in the final.

Toulouse make it official

Toulouse have signed a nine-year agreement with Stade Toulousain to make official their groundshare at the Stade Ernest-Wallon. The rugby league club has shifted its whole operation to the ground, including admin offices and club shop, has its own changing room and can change the stadium to blue and white colours using the LED panels.

The partnership between the two codes is a first in France and Toulouse becomes a true rugby city. Union president, Didier Lacroix, said: “It is a source of pride to see our teams evolve in synergy on a daily basis, to share the same ambition and the same passion for a world of the Ovalie more plural and complementary than ever.”

Vaivai makes union switch

Former Toulouse forward Patty Vaivai has signed for top flight rugby union side Agen, where he is expected to play inside centre. The Samoan previously played in the NRL with Newcastle and Gold Coast, and has also featured for Leigh. Vaivai said: “Never say never and I won’t close the door on a return. However, for the moment I have switched to XV and I want to give my maximum as long as possible in this sport even if a return is possible later in XIII.”

TV figures

The man behind the push to get Catalans Dragons back on French TV, Jean-Charles Tolza, has revealed that more than 250,000 viewers tuned in to last season’s game against St Helens. L’Equipe showed three games, using the Sky Sports feed, last season – while ahead of the 2021 campaign, the Dragons agreed a deal with beIN Sports for at least the first five matches of the season to be broadcast by the channel once again.

Latest French Elite Championship results

  • Carcassonne 42-14 Villeneuve
  • Albi 14-24 Palau
  • Limoux 64-0 Toulouse
  • Avignon P-P St Gaudens
  • Lezignan P-P St Esteve

Latest French Elite Championship table

Upcoming French Elite Championship fixtures

  • St Esteve v Albi
  • Lezignan v Villeneuve
  • Palau v St Gaudens