18 May, 15:44
It's down to the wire now for the five contenders who have been shortlisted for the ultimate individual accolade in northern hemisphere rugby, ERC European Player of the Year 2013.
The Pool stages determine which eight of the sixteen teams will go through to the play-offs (two Pools of four, the top two of each will battle it out in the semi-finals in a bid to reach the ultimate goal - a trip to the Stade de France in June at the Championship final.
The other eight teams will go into two Pools themselves, but for the sole purpose of avoiding relegation into Pro Division Two. Those teams take their Pool stage match points into the 'play-downs' which means that anything the can get from their remaining match could count in the struggle to stay up.
Those who progress to the play-offs have a double target - the French Championship title and ultimately, qualification to next season's Heineken Cup.
Agen have already qualified for the Heineken Cup by finishing top of Pool 2 and while Biarritz, Toulouse, Paris, Perpignan are already certain of a play-off place, Bourgoin, Montferrand, Grenoble, Bordeaux-Bà¨gles and Narbonne still have a chance of clinching one of the last three places.
Biarritz are in the driving seat to finish top in Pool 1 and grab the other automatic Heineken Cup place but they must get a win or a draw at Montauban or Stade Francais will come into the fray. If the Paris side come away from Bourgoin with a victory, they could take over that Pool 1 top spot, and with it a guaranteed return to the number one European competition.
It is winner-takes-all battle for the Pool 1 match between Montferrand and Grenoble with the loser condemned to the play-downs. Former European Shield winners and twice Heineken Cup quarter-finalists Montferrand are under huge pressure to pull out a vital performance in front of their own crowd and they will be boosted by the return to the 22 of France centre Tony Marsh.
Still in Pool 1, Bourgoin will bag the other play-off spot if they win or draw at home to Stade Francais.
If however, they lose to Paris by more than 5 points, and Bordeaux-Begles beat Castres, Bordeaux will qualify. PARKER PEN SHIELD semi-finalists Castres have no hope of qualifying, but they need to get some valuable points under their belt for the play-downs.
Table correct at 28/02/03
Table correct at 28/02/03
In Pool 2, there is only one place to play for with Agen, Toulouse and Perpignan through. Pau are the masters of their own destiny as they travel to Mont-de Marsan. If they win, they are in the last eight - if they draw or lose, Narbonne could catch them by beating Beziers away from home.
Beziers, Colomiers and Mont-de Marsan will be fighting it out in the play-downs.
In the play-offs, the teams who finish first and third from Pool 1 will be in Pool A of the play-offs, against the second and fourth qualified teams from Pool 2. The first and third teams in Pool 2 (Agen and Perpignan) will play against the second and fourth qualified teams in Pool 1.
Top 16 fixtures (14th and final round)
All kick-offs at 1510
Bourgoin - Stade Franà§ais
Montauban - Biarritz
Castres - Bà¨gles-Bordeaux
Montferrand - Grenoble
Toulouse - Agen
Mont-de-Marsan - Pau
Narbonne - Béziers
Perpignan - Colomiers