As the rest of Europe gets ready for the big kick-off of domestic rugby next weekend, the French Top 14 has already reached Round 3 with Toulouse setting the early pace.
After wins against Montauban and Brive, Guy Noves' three-time Heineken Cup champions will face their hardest test yet when they travel the Stade Aimé Giral on Saturday to take on the reigning French champions Perpignan in a replay of the 2005 Heineken Cup final in Dublin.
USAP, who ended a 55 year drought by beating Clermont in last season's Top 14 final, currently lie sixth position in the league having lost to Montpellier last weekend and will be hoping a win on Saturday can kick start their title defence.
In other action the 1997 Heineken Cup champions Brive will meet near neighbors Clermont Auvergne in an attractive derby. Brive lock Arnaud Mela told Midi Olympique that they must win to set up the rest of the season.
"We can't imagine losing against Clermont. There are no reasons to think that we can't beat them. It's a challenge for us and it will influence the rest of the season. Clermont are in very good form, so if we beat them at home the other teams will be scared to come here and play against Brive." said Mela.
The directors of ERC voted unanimously at a Board meeting to postpone all decisions including the release of further instalments of ERC's distributable central revenues to the six shareholder countries until 19 February next when the Board will meet again to reconsider the issue.