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Top 14: Dates, teams, history & more

Top 14 is the top division of professional rugby in France and considered to be one of the highest-quality rugby competitions in Europe and across the world.

There is promotion and relegation between the Top 14 and the next level down, the Rugby Pro D2.

The 14 best rugby teams in France participate in the competition, hence the name Top 14. The competition was previously known as the Top 16.

The league is one of the three major professional leagues in Europe - along with the English Premiership and the United Rugby Championship, which brings together top clubs from Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Italy and South Africa - from which the most successful European teams go forward to compete in the European Rugby Champions Cup.

The player pool is heavily French, with almost every member of the current national team competing at the club level in the league, though some international imports do ply their trade in the country, too.

Top 14 Dates

The domestic season runs from August through to June. Every club contests 26 games during the regular season - over 26 rounds of competition.

Top 14 Venues

Stade de Gerland - Lyon
Stade Chaban-Delmas - Bordeaux
Paris La Defense Arena - Nanterre
Stade Jean-Bouin - Paris
Stade Ernest-Wallon - Toulouse
Stade Marcel-Michelin - Clermont-Ferrand
Stade Marcel-Deflandre - La Rochelle
Stade Aime-Giral - Perpignan
Stade du Hameau - Pau
Stade Jean-Dauger - Bayonne
Stade Pierre-Fabre - Castres
Stade Mayol - Toulon
Stade Charles-Mathon - Oyonnax.

Top 14 How to watch

The Top 14 is available to watch on Viaplay Sports for UK audiences.

Top 14 Format

Every Top 14 team plays all of the others twice (once at home and once away) in a round-robin format. Following this, a knockout format is used to decide the winner of the tournament.

The Top 14 is structured into 26 rounds and this annual tournament kicks off in August.

The league is contested in a round-robin format, followed by quarter-finals and semi-finals. The final is held at the Stade de France and the winner raises the Bouclier de Brennus trophy.

The Top 14 knock-out stages consist of three rounds. The teams finishing third through to sixth play quarter-finals, hosted by the No. 3 and No. 4 teams.

The winners then face the top two seeds in the semi-finals, whose winners then meet in the final at the Stade de France.

The club that finishes bottom of the Top 14 is automatically relegated to Pro D2 and is replaced by the Pro D2 champion.

The second-from-bottom team then enters a promotion/relegation play-off with the Pro D2 runner-up and the winner of this game takes a place in the Top 14 for the next season.

Teams that finish in the top eight places of the Top 14 represent France in the European Rugby Champions Cup.

The remaining Top 14 teams automatically qualify for the European Rugby Challenge Cup. This means all of the Top 14 teams represent France in European competitions.

Top 14 History

The first edition of the Top 14 took place on 20th March 1892. This took the form of a Championship match that was organised between two clubs: Stade Francais and Racing Club de France.

Racing Club won the first competition 4-3. However, Stade Francais went on to win the title the following year.

Stade Toulouse holds the record for the most Top 14 titles.

To date, Toulouse has won the Bouclier de Brennus trophy 22 times, and are the current champions, having beaten La Rochelle 29-26 in the 2023 final.

Stade Francais have 14 wins, Beziers with 11, while Agen and Lourdes have eight wins apiece.

Top 14 Teams

Competing in the 2023-24 Top 14 competition are: Bayonne, Bordeaux, Castres, Clermont, La Rochelle, Lyon, Montpellier, Oyonnax, Pau, Perpignan, Racing 92, Stade Francais, Stade Toulouse, Toulon.

Top 14 Odds

La Rochelle are the favourites to win this year's competition at 9/5, with 19/10 Toulouse and Racing 92 at 11/2 the next best in the outright market.

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