the “doubles”, these delicate periods for the clubs of the Top 14

While February is the shortest month of the year, it seems like a long time to many rugby fans. The thing has nothing to do with the winter temperatures forcing them to superimpose layers of clothing to get to the stadium… Who says February, says, above all, Six Nations Tournament and, with it, the potential “duplicates”: the weekends where matches of the XV of France and championship matches, the Top 14, are scheduled.

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Unlike other disciplines, such as football, rugby rarely knows an international break. A year has only fifty-two weekends and you have to include the regular season and the final stages of the Top 14, the European Cup, and the meetings of the France team. A traffic jam that gives the calendar the appearance of a puzzle, forcing certain meetings to telescope.

The weekend of February 25 and 26 will be the third and final “double” of the season. While the Stade de France will be sold out on Sunday for the Blues match against Scotland, the clubs will play, in relative anonymity, the 19e Top 14 day.

A 19e day that will take place without the players called up to the national team. Unofficial supplier of the XV of France, the Toulouse Stadium will thus have to do without nine of its members – including the stars Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack – to receive a much less impacted Pau Section (this one not counting any selected in the France team) .

If Toulouse is comfortably at the top of the championship, with seven points ahead of its runner-up, Stade Français, other teams have less room when it comes to negotiating this pivotal period. ” Tournament [des six nations] is the turning point of the season, especially since the classification is ultra-tight »explains Rémi Lamerat, three-quarter center of the Union Bordeaux-Bègles (UBB) and former regular at rallies with the Blues (19 selections).

Beaten four times in their last five games, the UBB sinks in the standings – 7e of the Top 14 – and must in particular do without his master to play, Matthieu Jalibert. “We know the rules of the game before starting the game, necessarily the staffs are obliged to build their workforce according to, adds the player. But for the good of the XV of France, the best must be able to go there. »

Behind the “duplicates” … the “false duplicates”

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Especially since the teams concerned are sometimes deprived of their main assets until the end of the Tournament, on March 18. However, the Blues do not play every weekend and, in theory, the internationals could be operational in clubs. Except that behind the “duplicates” also hide… the “false duplicates”. In question: an agreement signed between the National Rugby League (LNR), which manages professional clubs, and the French Rugby Federation (FFR), which watches over the interests of the national team.

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