Rugby Pro D2
|Current season, competition or edition:|
2018–19 Rugby Pro D2 season
|No. of teams||16|
|Promotion to||Top 14|
|Relegation to||Fédérale 1|
Rugby Pro D2, also known as Pro D2 is the second tier of rugby union club competition division in France. It is operated by Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) which also runs the division directly above, the first division Top 14. Rugby Pro D2 was introduced in 2000.
There is relegation and promotion between both the Top 14 and Fédérale 1, the third-level competition. The top club at the end of the season is automatically promoted to the Top 14; through the 2016–17 season, the 2nd through 5th place teams play each other for the second promotion place. The bottom two are automatically relegated to Fédérale 1. The bottom two clubs of the Top 14 and the top two of Fédérale 1 then enter the Rugby Pro D2 for the next season.
There are 30 rounds in the regular season, with each team playing each other team home and away. The two halves of the season are played in the same order, with the away team in the first half of the season at home in the second half. The semi-finals and final take place in May, with the second- and third-place teams hosting the semi-finals and the final taking place at a predetermined site. At present, 16 clubs compete in the competition.
All promotions are contingent on passing a postseason financial audit required for all clubs. Also, if a club above the bottom two places fails the audit, it may be relegated in the place of a club that would otherwise have been relegated. This was especially an issue in the 2015–16 season, when four clubs faced at least the prospect of relegation for financial reasons. During the season, Tarbes were dropped to Fédérale 1 effective with the 2016–17 season, and Biarritz, Bourgoin and Narbonne were also dropped at the end of the season, pending appeals. Ultimately, Biarritz, Bourgoin, and Narbonne all won their appeals and remained in Pro D2.
Changes for 2017–18 and beyond
In August 2016, LNR released a strategic plan outlining its vision for French rugby through the 2023 Rugby World Cup. The plan includes significant changes to the top levels of the league system, with Pro D2 seeing especially dramatic changes starting with the 2017–18 season.
- Starting with 2017–18, Pro D2 will adopt a playoff system identical to that of the Top 14, with the top six teams on the league table qualifying. The top two teams receive byes into the semifinals, where they will face the winners of quarterfinal matches involving the remaining four sides.
- Only the Pro D2 champions will be assured of promotion to the Top 14. The losing finalist will enter a playoff with the second-from-bottom Top 14 side, with the winner taking up the final Top 14 place.
- There will also be major changes regarding promotion from Fédérale 1 to Pro D2. While two teams will continue to be promoted each season, the current system of two teams earning competitive promotions to Pro D2 will be scrapped. Instead, only the winner of the promotion playoffs will be promoted. The second promotion place will go to a "wildcard" club chosen by LNR meeting the following criteria:
- Must be located in northern France (with the dividing line running approximately from La Rochelle to Lyon)
- Have a long-term development plan
- Location in an area that can demographically and economically support a fully professional club
- The "wildcard" promotions will occur for three seasons (through 2019–20), after which LNR will create a third fully professional league below Pro D2.
Changes to lineup after 2017-2018 season:
- Promotion to Top 14: Perpignan (playoff champions) and Grenoble (defeated Top 14 team Oyonnax in relegation playoff).
- Relegation from Top 14: Brive (14th) and Oyonnax.
- Promotion from Fédérale 1: Provence Rugby and a "wildcard" team TBD.
- Relegation to Fédérale 1: Narbonne (16th) and Dax (15th).
The current table for the 2018–19 Rugby Pro D2 is:
Pos = Position, Pl = Played, W = Won, D = Drawn, L = Lost, PF = Points For, PA = Points Against, PD = Points Difference, TB = Try Bonus Points, LB = Losing Bonus Points, Pts = Points Total
Green background (rows 1 and 2) receive semi-final Promotion play-off places.
Blue background (rows 3 to 6) receive quarter-final Promotion play-off places.
Red background relegation to Fédérale 1.
When two teams have the same points total, position is determined by head-to-head results before points difference.
- Only one promotion as the top division reduced from 21 to 16 teams.
- Lost the play-off final to Auch.
- Only one promotion as the Top16 became Top14.
- Runner up.
- Both promotion places will be determined by play-offs from 2017–18 forward, with the winner of the Pro D2 play-offs earning promotion and the runner-up playing the second-from-bottom Top 14 team for the next season's final Top 14 place.
- Mortimer, Gavin (1 June 2016). "Financial penalties in the ProD2 send shockwaves around French rugby". Rugby World. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
- "Biarritz et Narbonne Maintenus en PRO D2" [Biarritz and Narbonne Remain in Pro D2] (Press release) (in French). Ligue Nationale de Rugby. 7 July 2016. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
- "Bourgoin Reste en PRO D2" [Bourgoin Remains in Pro D2] (Press release) (in French). Ligue Nationale de Rugby. 11 July 2016. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
- Mortimer, Gavin (18 August 2016). "French rugby enjoys a popularity boom as it looks to the future". Rugby World. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
- "Classement PRO D2". Ligue Nationale de Rugby (in French). Retrieved 2 December 2018.