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RugbyU: French Top 14 results

French Top 14 result on Friday: Clermont 23 Castres 11 Playing Saturday (all times GMT) Bordeaux-Begles v Toulon (1255), Bayonne v Stade Francais, Grenoble v Montpellier, Perpignan v Oyonnax, Racing-Metro v Biarritz (all 1630), Toulouse v Brive (1835) afp

RugbyU: Clermont go back to top with 76th straight home win

Clermont overcame a scare before extending their winning home record to 76 straight matches with an ultimately comfortable 23-11 win over Top 14 champions Castres. Wesley Fofana and Napolioni Nalaga scored the home tries in reply to a score for Castres from Uruguay lock Rodrigo Capo Ortega.

RugbyU: Saracens chief Griffiths salutes new Europe

Saracens chief executive Ed Griffiths believes the creation of the new Rugby Champions Cup is a "win-win" for the European game. The new 20-team competition will replace the existing European Cup from next season, with tournament funds distributed equally between the English Premiership, France's Top 14 and the Celtic League, which comprises the leading clubs in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Italy.

RugbyU: Saracens chief Griffiths salutes new Europe

Saracens chief executive Ed Griffiths believes the creation of the new Rugby Champions Cup is a "win-win" for the European game. The new 20-team competition will replace the existing European Cup from next season, with tournament funds distributed equally between the English Premiership, France's Top 14 and the Celtic League, which comprises the leading clubs in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Italy.

RugbyU: Refreshed Sharks look for points in Lions' den

The Coastal Sharks will be out to extend their Super 15 lead this weekend against the Golden Lions, while the ACT Brumbies aim to stay top of the Australian conference. Jake White's Sharks are on top of both the South African conference and the overall standings with 23 points from six games. The Durban-based outfit are coming off a bye and travel to Johannesburg where they have only lost three times in 10 encounters with the Lions. "We've had a break now and that was very good for us as a team, getting away from things," flanker Marcell Coetzee said.

RugbyU: Scottish boss defends under-fire Johnson

Scottish Rugby Union chief executive Mark Dodson has denied claims Scott Johnson was rewarded for failure following the national side's miserable 2014 Six Nations campaign. Australian coach Johnson was in charge of Scotland as they came within a last-ditch drop-goal of suffering a tournament whitewash but is now set to become the SRU's director of rugby with New Zealand's Vern Cotter, currently in charge of French club Clermont, taking over as national coach.

RugbyU: Munster's O'Mahony out for season

Munster skipper Peter O'Mahony will miss the European Cup semi-final against Toulon after being ruled out for the rest of the season with an over-extended shoulder. The 24-year-old, capped 23 times by Ireland, underwent reconstructive surgery on his left shoulder on Wednesday. The flanker sustained the injury in the 19th minute of Munster's 47-23 quarter-final rout of Toulouse on the weekend. jmt/lp/bc

RugbyU: Ulster's Payne banned for two weeks

Ulster full-back Jared Payne was on Wednesday banned for two weeks following his controversial tackle on Saracens' counterpart Alex Goode during a European Cup quarter-final. The Irish province had to play most of the match a man down after Payne was sent off by French referee Jerome Garces in just the fifth minute at Ulster's Ravenhill ground in Belfast when he took out Goode while he was mid-air gathering a high ball.

RugbyU: Cipriani gets Healey backing for New Zealand

Austin Healey has called on England to end the Test exile of Danny Cipriani after the fly-half was named the Premiership's player of the month for March. Cipriani's form has helped guide unheralded Sale to the brink of the play-off and led to calls he be included for England's tour of New Zealand in June. The 26-year-old was once the rising star of English rugby but won the last of his seven caps back in 2008, a combination of injuries and concerns about his 'celebrity' lifestyle off the pitch seeing him sidelined.

RugbyU: Bayonne flanker Puricelli to join Lyon

Former France flanker Julien Puricelli is to leave Top 14 club Bayonne for Pro D2 leaders Lyon on a two-year contract at the end of the season. The 32-year-old, capped four times by France in 2009, has been at Bayonne since 2008 and was previously at Castres and Grenoble. Lyon are likely to win promotion into the Top 14 at the end of this season and have already upped their recruitment with the signings of Kiwi prop Hoani Tui from Exeter, Australian flanker George Smith from Suntory Sungoliath and Racing-Metro lock Karim Ghezal. fjt/lp/ea
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