Stade lose Du Plessis appeal
UPDATE: Stade Francais were denied a Top 14 play-offs reprieve on Wednesday as French rugby bosses rejected their appeal against Montpellier for fielding an ineligible player.
A successful appeal would have possibly resulted in Stade being awarded victory in last weekend's 27-26 loss to Montpellier and thus leapfrog Parisian rivals Racing 92 into sixth place to claim the final play-off berth.
Stade had argued that South African lock Jacques Du Plessis should have been serving a suspension for the accumulation of yellow cards throughout the season when he appeared as a second half substitute for Montpellier.
But the French Rugby League (LNR) said Du Plessis's ban had been differed pending a hearing on May 17.
"In applying the LNR's general rules, the player was in fact free to play in that match," said the LNR.
The defeat, in which Stade picked up only a losing bonus point, coupled with a late Dan Carter try for Racing in their 22-20 win over Bordeaux-Begles, meant the current champions took sixth place at the expense of the team they succeeded as French title-holders.
Racing will travel to Montpellier, where they were eviscerated 54-3 less than three weeks ago, in the play-off quarterfinals on May 20, with the winners tackling Clermont in Marseille in the semifinals a week later.
Toulon face Castres in the other quarterfinal play-off, with table-toppers La Rochelle awaiting the winners in the Marseille semifinal double-header.
The LNR also handed Stade lock Pascal Pape a three-week ban for his red card in their 27-23 win over Racing 10 days ago.
Pape, who's punishment came for punching Racing centre Henry Chavancy, may not play again as he has already announced his impending retirement at the end of the current season.
He will miss Friday's European Challenge Cup Final against Gloucester and the European Champions Cup semifinal qualifier against Cardiff in 10 days.
Should Stade win that, he would be available again a week later for a potential final against one of Northampton, Gloucester and Connacht.
Racing's back rower Wenceslas Lauret, who was sent off alongside Pape for brawling in the fiery Parisian derby, was given a two week ban.
He will miss the Montpellier clash but would be available to face Clermont.