Stade sale be­gins as club await new owner

The Rugby Paper - - Principality Premiership - DAVID BARNES

Stade Fran­cais turned the win­ning of the first Euro­pean tro­phy in their his­tory into a farewell party for some of their great­est he­roes. Their Chal­lenge Cup vic­tory over Glouces­ter was not yet a swan­song – the prize of a place in the more pres­ti­gious Cham­pi­ons Cup next sea­son is still on of­fer if they can beat Cardiff on Fri­day.

And go on to vic­tory over the win­ners of a Northamp­ton SaintsCon­naught play-off in a fort­night.

But, even if Stade achieve that goal, they will be hav­ing to toast ab­sent friends when those big games come around next au­tumn.

For a start, cen­tre Geoffrey Doumay­rou, whose breath­tak­ing in­di­vid­ual try sealed the win for Stade, will be start­ing a three-year con­tract with La Rochelle along­side his co-cen­tre Jeremy Sinzelle, who came on as sub­sti­tute for another of Stade’s try-scor­ers, Jonathan Dante.

Toulon are another top club to pounce on play­ers whom Stade, with their eyes on a wonky bal­ance sheet, were only too will­ing to let go.

Full-back Hugo Bon­neval, who served up Dante’s try, and flanker Raphael Lakafia, a sub for fel­low France in­ter­na­tional An­toine Bur­ban, have signed to go there.

Rabat Sli­mani, a huge in­flu­ence on the re­sult at tight-head prop, will be in the colours of Cler­mont and South African No.8 Jono Ross, the man of the match for many, will be turn­ing out for Sale Sharks.

Add un­cer­tainty over the fu­ture of cap­tain Ser­gio Parisse, who scored Stade’s open­ing try, and a bit­ter-sweet re­frain can be heard be­hind the scenes.

Noth­ing, it ap­pears, can al­ter that sce­nario in the choice owner Thomas Savare will make be­tween four bids to buy the club from him. Un­less the suc­cess­ful group is the one fronted by for­mer Stade stars Christophe Do­minici, Thomas Lom­bard, Syl­vain Mar­con­net and Mathieu Blin and backed by in­vestors with no more than a 15 per cent stake each.

Do­minici says: “All the play­ers leav­ing have signed pre-con­tracts which can be bought back.” That would be more in hope than ex­pec­ta­tion, one feels.

For­mer Stade sports direc­tor and player Richard Poole-Jones heads another con­sor­tium and Qatari Sports In­vest­ments, own­ers of foot­ball club Paris St. Ger­main, have also tabled a bid.

Their in­ter­est, in­ci­den­tally, is what Rac­ing pres­i­dent Jacky Loren­zetti claims to have sparked his failed move to merge with derby ri­vals Stade in the first place.

Favourite to win the day, though, re­mains Ger­man bil­lion­naire HansPeter Wild whose clos­est sport­ing ad­vi­sor is Robert Mohr, a 38-year-old com­pa­triot who played in the back row for La Rochelle for a decade.

Mohr says: “We have to make our of­fer be­fore Mr Savare goes be­fore the DNACG ( the fi­nan­cial watch­dog) on Thurs­day morn­ing, so we will be do­ing it very quickly.

“We are aware it will be some chal­lenge next sea­son with nu­mer­ous de­par­tures from the club al­ready signed.There are three things we have to be con­vinc­ing about. First of all, fi­nance, which is solid. When Dr Wild gets in­volved, things are se­ri­ous and for the long term.

“Then there are Stade’s val­ues and iden­tity. They won’t be play­ing in the colours of Capri Sun (Wild’s soft drink) but in pink.

“And third we are con­vinced of Stade’s im­mense po­ten­tial. Dr. Wild is

“Favourite to win the day, though, re­mains Ger­man bil­lion­naire Hans-Peter Wild, pur­veyor of Capri Sun”

not buy­ing him­self a club to talk to the Press ev­ery day and re­cruit some All Black world cham­pi­ons.

“We will be work­ing on de­vel­op­ing young­sters, keep­ing those formed at the club and adding one or two top play­ers. It is re­as­sur­ing to see for­mer Stade play­ers mo­bilised. We would like to have such em­blem­atic fig­ures be­hind us.”

One of those may yet be Pas­cal Pape, whose red card for sling­ing a punch in the most re­cent derby with Rac­ing de­prived him of a game in the fi­nal with Glouces­ter.

Pape, banned for three weeks, may yet get the chance of an emo­tional farewell on his play­ing re­tire­ment in the fi­nal qual­i­fier for the Cham­pi­ons Cup on May 26 if the team can get him there. One man who will def­i­nitely be miss­ing is Ar­gen­tine team boss Gon­zalo Que­sada, whose new team Biar­ritz are in­volved in the play-offs for pro­mo­tion to the Top 14.

He will be hop­ing all of his fu­ture play­ers can re­main on the field when they meet fierce ri­vals Agen this af­ter­noon. And with good rea­son.

When Biar­ritz lost by one point at Agen last Septem­ber, there were three red cards and four yel­lows is­sued. Dur­ing the re­turn en­counter, which Biar­ritz won by three points in Jan­uary, two men were sent off and four were booked.

All five reds were handed out to play­ers swing­ing punches in dis­plays of vi­o­lence which do not au­gur well for to­day’s con­fronta­tion.

The team who come out on top will face the win­ners of the other play-off be­tween Mon­tauban and Mont de Marsan tonight for the right to be pro­moted along with Divi­sion Two cham­pi­ons Oy­on­nax.

Leav­ing Paris: Jono Ross is join­ing Sale Sharks

New Zealand in­ter­na­tional Luke McAlis­ter will join Toulon next sea­son.

The 33-year-old for­mer Blues fly-half will join on a one-year deal from Toulouse with an op­tion for a se­cond sea­son.

McAlis­ter spent six sea­sons with Toulouse af­ter spells with Auck­land Blues and Sale Sharks.

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