The FFR has taken another brave step forward in announcing a detailed programme for the 2020-21 season.
It stresses that all these provisions depend on government advice concerning the battle against coronavirus.
As advertised before, the elite clubs will be divided into four pools of four. Those finishing in the top half move ahead to play-offs; the remainder play each other for rankings.
In effect, French Rugby admits that the new format introduced two seasons ago has not worked out as desired. The second-division clubs were by and large unable to withstand the pressure applied by the original Top 8.
So after meeting them again for half the season, they will be spared the torture for the second half.
The programme runs from 5 September (Preliminary Phase) right through to the Final (22-23 May) with two more weekends allocated for remaining play-offs.
The whole period (5 September-6 June) represents a huge chunk of the calendar year, much longer than anything England experiences. It wouldn’t leave much space for long-desired contests between French and English clubs.
The 16 clubs involved are:
UNIVERSITÉ STADE FRANÇAIS