The 2018/19 Top 14 season began on 25 August 2018, last weekend the semi finals took place in Bordeaux, and there are probably Merlot grapes that have had a shorter season than their rugby playing counterparts, such has been the length of this exhausting campaign.
Whilst there is sanguine advice to drink the Bordeaux grape juice in moderation, player welfare in France does not carry any government health warnings.
After the first semi final on Saturday night, between Toulouse and La Rochelle, the only warning should have been to spectators, it was mainly a turgid affair and it would have been advisable not to drive or operate any heavy machinery due to the drowsiness it caused, thank heavens for Cheslin Kolbe who managed to turn a fully induced coma to a cat nap every once in a while.
Sunday afternoon proved to be a much more entertaining affair, as Clermont eventually beat Lyon 33-13, the Michelin men pulled away after 50 minutes and ended up comfortable winners, although the half time score of 16-8 gave food for thought.
84,113 spectators drank in the sunshine at the Matmut Atlantique stadium over the two days, and to cap it all that full bodied Georgian red, Davit Zirakashvili, made his 248th Top 14 appearance when he came of the bench for Clermont.
So the top two teams of the league stage, deservedly head north for one final fling in Paris next Saturday, where the vin rouge of Bordeaux will be replaced by champagne for one of the protagonists, lets hope the rugby as well as the bubbly is vintage.
After ten months duration the 2018/19 Top 14 season will finally come to an end “Plus ca change.