The 1996–97 French Rugby Union Championship was played by 20 teams
Stade Toulousain won their 14th title, beating Bourgoin in the final.
The 20 team were divided in the preliminary phase in two pools of 12. The first eight team of each pool were admitted to "Round of 16". The last two were relegated in second division.
Stade Toulousain: Christian Califano, Patrick Soula, Jean-Louis Jordana, Hugues Miorin, Franck Belot, Didier Lacroix, Régis Sonnes, Sylvain Dispagne, Jérôme Cazalbou, Christophe Deylaud, David Berty, Thomas Castaignède, Nicolas Martin, Michel Marfaing, Stéphane Ougier – Replacements: Olivier Carbonneau, Julien Tilloles, Xavier Garbajosa, David Couzinet, Pascal Lasserre, Philippe Capelleri
Bourgoin : Philippe Vessilier, Jean-Pierre Sanchez, David Morgan, Marc Cécillon, Jean Daudé, Alexandre Chazalet, Michel Malafosse, Pierre Raschi, Dominique Mazille, Gilles Cassagne, Ludovic Saunier, Stéphane Glas, Alexandre Péclier, Laurent Leflamand, Nigel Geany – Replacements: : Pascal Fernandez, Laurent Gomez,