Fédérale 2: French Amateur Rugby Union Championship

What is the Federal 2 Division in French Rugby?

Fédérale 2 is the second division of the French national amateur rugby union championships as organized by the French Rugby Federation (Fédération Française de Rugby, or FFR). It comprises 96 teams that compete across eight regional pools throughout the regular season. At the conclusion of the regular season, the top teams from each pool advance to the playoff round, where promotions to Fédérale 1 (first division) and the overall championship winner are decided.

In the overall hierarchy of French rugby union championships, Fédérale 2 sits at the fifth level, with the next levels being Fédérale 1, Nationale, Pro D2, and, finally, Top 14. However, this structure will change for the 2022-23 season with the insertion of a second Nationale division. This will see Fédérale 2 effectively drop to sixth place.

The creation of the Fédérale 2 competition resulted from a reshuffle of the overall structure of rugby competition in France at the end of the 1996-97 season. It was originally named Nationale until it adopted the Fédérale name in 2001.

Federal 2 Division: Game and Pool Structure

Throughout the regular season, the structure of the competition sees each team competing against the other teams in its pool two times, playing one home game and one away game against each. Teams win points based on both the outcome of the game, with bonuses awarded for the quality of their offensive and defensive play. At the end of this phase, 32 teams advance to the playoffs.

From each pool, the top two teams by point score automatically progress to the playoffs. The other two teams that advance from each pool are decided in a knockout round between the teams finishing between third and sixth place inclusive.

From the final 32 teams that enter the playoffs, the sixteen teams that make it through the two rounds automatically qualify for promotion to Fédérale 1. Following this, the final sixteen compete for a spot in the quarter-finals, from which point on teams compete in a knockout format to decide who is crowned the French Fédérale 2 champion.

At the other end of the ladder, two teams from each pool are relegated to the third division Fédérale 3 competition at the end of each season. The relegated teams are automatically decided on point score throughout the regular season alone. The two from each pool coming in at eleventh and twelfth place are relegated, exchanging places with the top sixteen teams from that year’s Fédérale 3 competition.

Federal 2 Division: the 2021-2022 Season

At the conclusion of the 2021-22 season, the sixteen teams qualifying for promotion to Fédérale 1 were: Agde, Annecy, Annonay, Bergerac, Genève, Gennevilliers, Gujan-Mestras, L’Isle Jourdain, La Valette-du-Var, Meyzieu, Nantes, Paris Université Club (PUC), Saint-Médard-en-Jalles, Salles, Sarlat Rugby, and Tricastin.

Sarlat Rugby was one of the standout teams during the regular season 2021-2022 as they were the only unbeaten team, for the very first time in their history dating all the way back to 1903. The team won an unprecedented 22 games out of 22 played before entering the season playoffs. After another Covid-interrupted during the 2020-21 season, Sarlat Rugby’s A-Team would go on to finish the regular 2021-22 Federale 2 season on a winning streak that lasted from start to finish and won their accession to the higher league, Federal 1.

The outbreak of Covid-19 had threatened to put a stop to the club’s plans. As play shut down and sponsors dried up, the financial position of the club started to look doubtful. This saw the arrival of French-American entrepreneur, Dom Einhorn, who, in addition to a significant sponsorship dollars, brought plans to commercialize the club and see it rise back through the ranks of French rugby.

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