The two-time titleholders continue to defend their crown. The Rochelais qualified for the round of 16 of the Rugby Champions Cup on Sunday January 21, defeating Sale (England). A victory acquired with forceps. Grégory Alldritt’s teammates led 30-0 before seeing their opponents narrow the gap. The Yellow and Black finally won 37 to 24. The Sale Sharks were transferred to the Challenge Cup.

This victory concludes a group sentence which had started badly for the Charente-Maritime team. La Rochelle started with two defeats, one at home against Leinster (Ireland), finalist of the last two editions, and another, at the last minute, at the Stormers (South Africa). A delicate start to a group stage which only has four days. But the goal of being among the first four (out of six) to reach the round of 16 remained achievable.

La Rochelle was able to react with two successes, validating its ticket for the next round. Like the Yellow and Black, four other clubs from France managed to qualify for the round of 16 of the Champions Cup.

Toulouse and Bordeaux at the top of their group

Fourth in the league with five defeats in twelve matches, Stade Toulouse is irresistible in the Champions Cup. Antoine Dupont’s teammates started the competition with three resounding successes against Cardiff (Wales), 52-7, on the lawn of Harlequins (England), 49-19, and in Ireland against Ulster, 48-24 . Already qualified, the five-time winner of the competition won (31-19) against Bath (England) on Sunday to conclude the group stage flawlessly.

In the same group, Racing 92, which started with three defeats, qualified for the last day by winning at home (48-26) against Cardiff. In the round of 16, the Parisians will face Stade Toulouse.

Union Bordeaux-Bègles is the second French club to have finished at the top of its group. Remarkable at the start of the season, Yannick Bru’s players did not tremble during the first three matches of the competition, also inflicting heavy defeats on each of their opponents. In this same group A, Lyon, penultimate in the Top 14, also qualified for the next round with a record of two wins and two defeats.

Toulon and Stade Français eliminated, Bayonne overthrown

In the same group as La Rochelle, Stade français did not shine. The capital club has been beaten four times in as many matches. Away, the Parisians lost at Sale (28-5), before conceding a heavy 43-7 against Leinster. At the Jean-Bouin stadium, Laurent Labit’s team was never able to find the solution. Stade Français is eliminated from all European competition.

Group C was not easy for the French teams involved. Despite hard-fought matches, RC Toulon suffered four defeats and is in last place, synonymous with elimination. In the same group, Aviron Bayonnais could not do better than fifth. The Basque club joins Clermont and Montpellier, qualified for the round of 16 of the Challenge Cup.