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Johnny Sexton recalled by Racing Métro for pivotal Top 14 clash
It’s a big day in French rugby and former Ireland U20 prop Denis Coulson will also play a part.

RACING MÉTRO HAVE brought Johnny Sexton back into their starting team for today’s crucial Top 14 clash with Castres as they look to secure a play-off spot.

The Parisians come into the final round of the regular season in seventh position, with only the top six teams advancing into the play-offs.

Jonathan Sexton Morgan Treacy / INPHO Sexton sat on the bench last weekend for Racing. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

The build-up to last weekend’s disappointing 18-18 draw at La Rochelle had seen Racing make a number of changes to their starting XV, with Sexton one of the big names to drop to the bench.

It remains unclear whether those changes were punishment for Racing’s miserable 28-19 defeat at home to Paris rivals Stade Français a week prior, a game they lost despite Stade playing three quarters of the tie with only 14 men after Sergio Parisse was controversially sent off, or simply to rest key players.

Sexton is back in the Racing team regardless of the foundation of that decision by coaches Laurent Labit and Laurent Travers, with the likes of Juandre Kruger and Antonie Claassen also returning.

Visitors Castres only confirmed that they won’t be relegated form the Top 14 last weekend, meaning Racing are presented with a fine opportunity to win and secure a top-six finish.

Sixth-placed Bordeaux are away to Toulouse this afternoon, while fifth-placed Oyonnax are on the road in Toulon. Those fixtures increase the likelihood of Racing moving into the play-offs as long as they can win themselves.

Les ciels et blancs have struggled for form recently after a strong first half of the season, but beating Castres at Stade Yves du Manoir should not be beyond them.

Sexton’s hopes of ending his time at Racing with a trophy, however, currently look slim. That said, the competitive 29-year-old will do everything in his power to take a Top 14 winner’s medal home to Leinster with him this summer.

Denis Coulson James Crombie / INPHO Ireland U20-capped prop Coulson is on the Grenoble bench. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Elsewhere, former Ireland U20 prop Denis Coulson has earned a place on the Grenoble bench for their vital meeting with the already-relegated Lyon.

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The Bernard Jackman and Mike Prendergast-coached club are hoping to confirm their Top 14 status for next season with a win on the final day.

Coulson is in line to make his third league appearance for Grenoble since joining the club last summer. He has already played against Toulon and Brive, and signed a new contract with FCG in January to keep him in France until 2017 at least.

Today’s Top 14 fixtures:

  • Racing Métro v Castres
  • Bayonne v La Rochelle
  • Brive v Stade Français
  • Toulon v Oyonnax
  • Lyon v Grenoble
  • Montpellier v Clermont
  • Toulouse v Bordeaux

All games kick-off at 15.15 Irish time.

Untitled LNR The Top 14 table heading into tomorrow's final regular season round. LNR

- Originally posted on 22 May, updated at 09.00 on 23 May.

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