SOURCE: Eurosport Asia-Pacific Ltd
HONG KONG--(Marketwire - Aug 16, 2012) - The French Top 14 returns this weekend with back-to-back title winners Toulouse firmly established as the team to beat in 2012/13.
The reigning champions will kick-off their campaign with a re-match of last season's semi-final against Castres. Victory came courtesy of an 18 point haul to New Zealand's Luke McAlister, a match winning performance that was repeated two weeks later in the 18-12 grand final win over Toulon.
Castres, led by fellow New Zealand international Chris Masoe, enjoyed their first semi-finals appearance in 11 years in 2011/12, and will hope for another record breaking effort in the new season.
The French Top 14 -- the northern hemisphere's premier domestic rugby competition -- is set to kick-off the 2012/13 season when Bayonne hosts Clermont and Perpignan takes on Toulon LIVE on Eurosport.
Bayonne and Clermont's first up encounter will no doubt provide the fireworks that the Top 14 is renowned for. Bayonne have struggled in recent years having only just escaped relegation, but will look to Welsh star Mike Phillips and New Zealand winger Joe Rokocoko to revitalise their fortunes.
Clermont, conversely, have become one of Europe's powerhouses, built around a backline featuring captain Aurélien Rougerie, Fijian born Kiwi flyer Sitiveni Sivivatu and Australian fly half Brock James. Watch their clash on Eurosport 2.30pm on Sunday 19 August.
Toulon will look to put the pain of last season's final defeat behind them when they meet Perpignan. The visitors will be able to call on another mighty haul of overseas stars, with champion playmakers Australian Matt Giteau and former England captain Jonny Wilkinson joined at Toulon by England internationals Nick Kennedy and Delon Armitage.
Toulon v Perpignan starts LIVE on Eurosport from 2.45am on Sunday 19 August.
The Top 14 French Rugby season goes right through the winter and concludes in June 2013 and serves as a key form guide to the annual European club trophy, the Heineken Cup.
Eurosport will televise two LIVE games each week plus a weekly half-an-hour wrap up featuring all the latest news, highlights and interviews. It is also available on Eurosport HD.
Eurosport is available on Astro TV (Channel 814)
* Schedules as of 16 August 2012 and subject to change