French Top 14 Rugby Kicks Off New Star-Studded Season on Eurosport
Eurosport in Asia-Pacific provides live coverage of season opener and key matches throughout the year
Online, August 24, 2011 (Newswire.com) - The French Top 14 - the northern hemisphere's premier domestic rugby competition - will be LIVE on Eurosport in Asia-Pacific from this weekend.
The competition gathers the best 14 rugby clubs in France, featuring some of the finest players in the world, including the majority of the French World Cup team, as well as attracting a plethora of big name international stars. This season looks to be no different, with a hectic offseason of transfers and signings, with many sides confirming a number of high profile signings.
Champions Toulouse will help launch what is shaping up as one of the most anticipated French Top 14 seasons this week when they kick off their title defence against Bayonne LIVE on Eurosport at 00.45am on Saturday 27 August (replay at 15.15pm).
New signings for the powerhouse side include recently dumped All Blacks centre Luke McAlister, who will be joined by hulking Springbok prop GurthrÃ¶ Steenkamp and Wallaby Luke Burgess after they return from World Cup leave.
Coming up against the reigning champions in their opening match, Bayonne will be counting on Kiwi try scoring machine Joe Rokocoko to lift them to an opening round win.
Toulon have continued their penchant for contracting high-profile players by signing Wallabies great Matt Giteau, the 92-Test veteran, 2009 Australian Rugby Player of the Year (John Eales Medal) and 2009 nominee for IRB Player of the Year.
Only last week, Giteau was controversially omitted from the Wallabies' World Cup campaign, meaning he will begin his first season at the French glamour club sooner than expected.
While all eyes will be on Giteau to see how he takes his omission angst out on rival clubs, he will have plenty of high wattage company at Toulon with another world famous Australian (and rugby league convert) Willie Mason playing alongside English legend Jonny Wilkinson and giant South African star Bakkies Botha who will join after their respective World Cup campaigns.
Another player who will be widely followed in the Asian region is FranÃ§ois Trinh-Duc. The talented back is one of the first ever rugby players of Vietnamese origin to play for the French national side and has been called up for duty once again for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Trinh-Duc's paternal grandfather was born in Vietnam, migrating to France during the First Indochina War.
The popular French international plays for last season's runners-up Montpellier and will be keen to make amends for the 15-10 final loss and go one better for the club this season.
Eurosport will show at least two games LIVE every week of the 26-round season, with the opening round's second game set to feature the match between Toulon and Biarritz at 2.00am on Sunday 28 August (replay at 14.45pm).
Operated by the Ligue Nationale de Rugby, the 2011-2012 French Top 14 comprises 26 rounds and will run from August 2011 until the final on 9 June 2012. The top six clubs of the season will be guaranteed berths in the 2012-2013 Heineken Cup.
Schedule of LIVE matches on Eurosport for the next two weeks:
27/08/11: Bayonne v Toulouse (LIVE at 00:45; re-run at 15:15)
28/08/11: Toulon v Biarritz (LIVE at 02:00; re-run at 10:00)
04/09/11: Toulon v Clermont (LIVE at 01:30; re-run at 11:00)
* Schedules are as of 23 August 2011 and are subject to change. Times are HKG.
About Eurosport Group
The Eurosport Group is Europe's leading sports entertainment group. Eurosport, the n°1 pan-European TV channel, broadcasts in 20 languages and reaches 126 million homes across 59 countries. Eurosport HD is the high definition simulcast of Eurosport. Eurosport 2 broadcasts to 51 million households in 17 languages across 47 countries. Eurosport 2 HD was launched in August 2009. Eurosport Asia-Pacific reaches 15 countries in the region. Eurosportnews is the sports news channel transmitted worldwide. Eurosport.com, Europe's n°1 online sports destination, has over 14 million unique users per month (comScore) across an international network of sports websites in 11 languages. The Eurosport.com free mobile application is available in 10 languages. Eurosport Player, Eurosport's web TV service, provides LIVE and on-demand sports to fans' PCs in 59 countries and the Player mobile application is available in 5 countries. Eurosport Events is the group's expert division in the management and promotion of international sporting events. For more information, please visit www.eurosportcorporate.com
About Eurosport Asia-Pacific Ltd
Eurosport Asia Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Eurosport S.A., oversees all activities of the Eurosport Group in the Asia-Pacific region and has its headquarters in Hong Kong. It produces and distributes the TV channels Eurosport and Eurosportnews as well as several web and mobile products in Asia-Pacific and is responsible for advertising sales in the region. Eurosport provides a local language sports website in China at http://eurosport.qq.com.