Paris: Clermont and Toulon return from European Cup heroics to the week-in, week-out travails of the topsy-turvy Top 14 this weekend.
Both sides safely progressed to the semi-finals of the continent’s elite club competition, Clermont overcoming Leicester and Toulon outmuscling Leinster.
But before more European sorties, the French heavyweights face home opposition, with nine clubs in the Top 14 still realistically in the hunt for a place in the end-of-season play-offs granted to the top six finishers, with just two games of the regular season to play after this latest round.
Clermont host defending champions Castres on Friday, hunting a 76th successive home victory, while Toulon travel to Bordeaux-Begles on Saturday.
Montpellier head the standings on 66 points, with Toulon and Clermont in second and third spot, both on 65pts.
Castres sit in fourth (62), followed by a resurgent Racing-Metro (60), Toulouse, Bordeaux and Stade Francais all on 58, and Brive (55).
Clermont coach Vern Cotter was under no illusions that there would be no let-up, especially after Castres’ “week off”.