|Image LNR Pro d2 teams|
The 2013-2014 Top 14 season was history making as number continued to reach new levels and famous club sides were relegated. Perpignan and Biarritz have both been French champions in recent years with Biarritz winning in 2006 and Perpignan in 2009 but both will now be in the second division. Replacing them will be Pro d2 regular season champions Lyon and the winner of the Pro d2 final. French lower division enthusiast Christopher Silbernagel offers insight into who these teams are and who could also rise and fall from other divisions.
By Christopher Silbernagel
Despite wins in the final round, Auch and Bressane have been relegated to Fédérale 1 (depending on the DNAGC). The first round of the playoffs for the second promotion spot to Top 14 will see Agen against Narbonne and La Rochelle against Pau.
Results are in for the return legs of the Jean-Prat playoffs.
Massy crushed Pays d'Aix 34-14, with an aggregate score of 61-50. This one ended as expected.
Tyrosse defeated Nevers 30-20, with an aggregate score of 45-45. The result confirmed my predictions that this one would be the one to watch and these two clubs did not disappoint. Tyrosse will go through as they scored more points away from home in the first leg.
Lille narrowly defeated Mâcon 16-12, with an aggregate score of 36-27. This one was considered an upset, though I don't think anyone could truly say any club from the second pool this season was tough competition.
Montauban crushed Aubenas 31-11, with an aggregate score of 51-30. Despite a narrow away win for dominant Montauban, this one ended up being a cake walk for the southwestern club.
Massy will face off against Tyrosse. Parisian club Massy will look to head right back to Pro D2 only one season out while the club from tiny coastal town Saint-Vincent-de-Tyrosse hasn't competed in Pro D2 for 8 years. I expect Massy to be overconfident heading into this one, so I'm sticking with my pre season prediction of Tyrosse heading to the final. In truth, this one could go either way.
Lille will face off against Montauban. Midi-Pyrénéen club Montauban is still undefeated this season and will look to go through with dominant performances against one of France's most northern based rugby clubs, Lille. While it is highly unlikely that Lille will go through, they do stand a good chance of ruining Montauban's undefeated season at home. I pick Montauban to go through on aggregate by at least 12.
With the first round out of the way, the real prizes are up for grabs at this point. In the second round, each of these clubs will be playing for direct promotion to Fédérale 1 as there are eight spots available. Competition from the quarters and on will be for the championship.
There weren't many surprises, though I did inaccurately predict a few outcomes, most notably Gaillac, Orthez, and Rumilly. My predictions for the second round are listed below. I believe my only bold pick to be Libourne over a more experienced Agde. Soyaux Angoulème also maintain an undefeated season record thus far, so it will be interesting to see how Rouen handle the pressure.
Strasbourg over Niort
Soyaux Angoulème over Rouen
Châteaurenard over Tricastin
Carqueiranne-Hyères over Grasse
Libourne over Agde
Bergerac over Castelsarrasin
Graulhet over Fleurance
Saint Sulpice over Lombez-Samatan