Top 14: why does the Toulouse – La Rochelle semi-final take place at 8:15 p.m.?

Top 14: why does the Toulouse – La Rochelle semi-final take place at 8:15 p.m.?
Top 14: why does the Toulouse – La Rochelle semi-final take place at 8:15 p.m.?

8:15 p.m. is a fairly unusual schedule for a Top 14 match, even more so for a semi-final of the caliber of this Toulouse – La Rochelle. Why will this shock begin at this time, this Friday evening? The first, obvious reason is the competition from the Blues’ second match at the Euro, against the Netherlands, in Leipzig (at 9 p.m. on M6).

To avoid completely overlapping the two matches, the broadcaster Canal + and the National Rugby League decided to bring the match forward by three quarters of an hour. Why not shift it further, so that the half and the Blues match do not collide at all?

It would have been complicated to place this Toulouse – La Rochelle at an even earlier time, both for the encrypted channel, which would have seen its audience reduced, and for the spectators, who would have had a very reduced margin of time to get to the Matmut Atlantique in Bordeaux, late on a Friday afternoon.

An “irremovable” finale

Why then not have this half been postponed to Saturday, and the second between Stade Français and UBB (Saturday, 9:05 p.m.) to Sunday? This time, it is the date of the Top 14 final which poses a problem. The latter was scheduled for Friday June 28 in Marseille from December, when the Euro draw was made, because it is a day without a match in the competition, between the end of the group stage and the round of 16 which start on Saturday June 29.

With the final being played on Friday so as not to risk another confrontation with the Blues, the recovery and preparation time for the team qualified the previous Sunday would have only been five days. A deadline that is really too short and unfair.

Toulouse logically chose the first half

Finally, last possible question: why not have exchanged this Friday’s half, a priori the most attractive on paper between the two teams who have won the last four European titles, with that of Saturday, so as not to see the best meeting to be played at the same time as Netherlands – France? For now, it is Stade Toulousain which has the answer.

Since the introduction of the play-offs during the 2009-2010 season, it is customary for the first of the regular phase to choose which half to play, the first or the second. Logically, Toulouse preferred to play first in order to have one more day between its half and a possible final.

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Since 2009-2010, the first of the regular phase of the Top 14 only played the second half twice : Clermont in 2013 (defeat against Castres) and Toulouse in 2021 (victory against UBB).

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