Team denied third place in French Elite Championship by bizarre points difference ruling

James Gordon
French Elite Championship

The French Elite Championship regular season was completed at the weekend, with Albi missing out on third spot despite beating rivals Lezignan 24-14.

The win for the Tigers meant both sides finished level on 42 points, with 13 wins, five losses and three bonus points each during the season.

Albi boasted a superior points difference of 214, compared to 204, but it was Lezignan that maintained third place.

That is because Lezignan, having beaten Albi 26-10 earlier in the season, boasted a better ‘head to head’ performance against Albi this season – with Elite One Championship rules stipulating that the points difference in matches between the two sides is what counts.

It begs the question why bother having points difference displayed in the league table if it isn’t going to make any difference to separating clubs.

French Elite players put their hands up for Super League moves

Tony Gigot was instrumental in Albi’s victory, and they will go for some silverware this weekend when they face Carcassonne in the Lord Derby Cup final at Stade Gilbert Brutus.

Carcassonne, as expected, wrapped up top spot with a routine 42-0 win over Villeneuve.

Lezignan’s defeat meant they lost their chance of finishing second, which instead went to Limoux courtesy of their 62-14 thrashing of Toulouse.

St Gaudens, coached by former Leeds and Hull KR prop Mitch Garbutt, pinched the final play-off spot with a 28-24 win away at rivals Avignon.

Avignon, a relative hot bed of rugby league and a regular host to international games with big crowds over the years, will not be a host city at the 2025 World Cup in France. It is reported that the local council have baulked at the €200,000 hosting fee.

In the weekend’s other game, St Esteve were 37-22 winners away at Pia, who were already sure of their play-off berth.

Pia will now travel to Albi in the play-offs, with Lezignan hosting St Gaudens in the other game. The winners will go through to play away at Carcassonne or Limoux in the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, in French Elite Two Championship, Ille and Villefranche await in the semi-finals. VARL host Baho and Entraigues visit Lescure in the preliminary play-offs.

Elite Championship Round 18 results

  • Albi 24-14 Lezignan
  • Avignon 24-28 St Gaudens
  • Limoux 62-14 Toulouse
  • Pia 22-37 St Esteve
  • Villeneuve 0-42 Carcassonne

Elite One Championship Play-offs (May 6/7)

  • Lezignan v St Gaudens
  • Albi v Pia

Semi-finals (May 13/14)

  • Carcassonne v Albi/Pia
  • Limoux v Lezignan/St Gaudens

Grand Final (May 27/28)

Elite Two Championship Play-offs (April 29/30)

  • VARL v Baho
  • Lescure v Entraigues

Semi-finals (May 6/7)

  • Ille v Lescure/Entraigues
  • Villefranche v VARL/Baho

Grand Final (May 20/21)