Stade serve up reminder of their class
April 26, 2010
Stade's Mathieu Bastareaud gets stuck in against Racing © Getty Images
Their year has gone from bad to worse and to boot, their new, uppity neighbours stole their thunder all season long. But it's safe to say Stade Francais gave everyone a little reminder of their firepower on Saturday with a comprehensive 41-17 hammering of local rivals Racing Metro.
"The season has been difficult so we made the objective of playing for pleasure," skipper Rodrigo Roncero told Midi Olympique. "It's done. There are a lot of emotions because there are going to be quite a few guys who won't be around next season"
Having finished on top of the table and with no Heineken Cup to worry about, Perpignan closed out the regular season on a high by beating Albi 44-0 and are favourites once more to lift the Bouclier de Brennus.
"We've chosen our own destiny," reaffirmed coach Jacques Brunel to l'Independant.
The Perpignan boss also admitted, though, that finishing first does present its own challenges. "We will see if that was a good idea after the semi-finals," he said. "From one point of view we're eighty minutes from the final. From another we now have to manage a period of inactivity."
For Toulon flanker Joe El Abd, there was delight in beating Brive 23-26 but the former Bristol boy was also enthused that it had come at the end of a long season.
El Abd told Var Matin: "It's superb. We've finished second at the end of a long season and now, we can look at the title. The semi final will be tough, as the six teams who have qualified are of a very high standard. We'll just try and play like we've done up until now."
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham