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RugbyU: Clermont round off league campaign with new record

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

European Cup finalists Clermont established a new French record of 60 successive home wins in all competitions on Saturday as they ended their Top 14 regular season with a 67-3 thrashing of Bordeaux-Begles.

Clermont, who play fellow French side and title rivals Toulon in the European Cup final in Dublin on May 18, beat the mark they shared with Stade Francais of 59 which the Parisian club established between September 2004 and March 2008.

Clermont's last home loss dates back to November 21, 2009, with a 16-13 reverse by Biarritz.

Having finished top of the Top 14 standings they, like runners-up Toulon, get a week off while third to sixth placed teams play for the honour of reaching the semi-finals.

France No8 Louis Picamoles is a doubtful starter for Toulouse in next Friday's play-off with Racing-Metro after he was injured in their 57-7 trouncing of Grenoble.

Toulouse head coach Guy Noves, who is bidding to guide Toulouse to their third successive title, said that Picamoles had suffered injuries to a shoulder, a thigh and a deep bruising to a calf muscle.

"He is doubtful for the match but we hope to have him back for the semi-final should we reach it," said the 59-year-old.

Noves, who in his tenure at Toulouse has guided them to 10 French titles and a record four European Cups, said that aside from Picamoles, who went off at half-time, there were no other injury worries.

"The preparations for the play-off begin now," said Noves.

"It will be an interesting week just as we like them."

Racing-Metro could have avoided the unwelcome trip to Toulouse if they had beaten fourth-placed Castres with an offensive bonus point and denied their opponents a defensive one on Saturday.

However, while they won 29-28, it wasn't enough and Castres -- whose coaches Laurent Labit and Laurent Travers will be at Racing next season - will host 2011 finalists Montpellier next Saturday.

Montpellier outclassed 2009 champions Perpignan 50-22 and will face Castres for a third successive year in the play-offs, both having won one apiece.

The winners of the Toulouse and Racing Metro match will play Toulon in Nantes in the semi-finals on May 24 while the winners of the other game also play in Nantes against table toppers and 2010 champions Clermont on the 25th.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130504/rugbyu-clermont-round-league-campaign-new-record