Racing 92 and Stade Francais weekend matches postponed over merger plan strike and turmoil

Telegraph Sport
The Telegraph
Captain Sergio Parisse is one of the Stade Francais players on strike - PA Archive/PA Images
Captain Sergio Parisse is one of the Stade Francais players on strike - PA Archive/PA Images

The shock proposed merger between Paris rivals Racing 92 and Stade Francais has resulted in Saturday's Top 14 fixtures involving the clubs being postponed.

Stade, whose players are on strike over the planned merger, were due to play at Castres on Saturday late-afternoon while Racing were to play at Montpellier on Saturday evening.

New dates for the two matches are due to be announced by Monday evening. The other round-21 games are due to go ahead as scheduled on Saturday and Sunday.

A Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) statement on Friday lunchtime, confirming the postponements, read: "The LNR has taken into account the unusual nature of the situation and has decided to postpone to a later date the matches Castres Olympique/Stade Francais Paris and Montpellier Herault Rugby/Racing 92 this weekend.

"The new dates for these matches will be communicated no later than Monday evening."

"With this decision the LNR hopes to preserve the competitive balance of the Top 14."

Players from both clubs, including those on international duty with France, were stunned when the planned merger was announced on Monday.

On Wednesday Stade's squad went on what the president of the French players' union Robins Tchale-Watchou called an "open-ended strike".

News of the postponements came around two hours after a meeting between Racing and Stade on Friday morning to discuss the merger.

Stade players and supporters, wearing the team's traditional pink, protested outside the meeting at the LNR's headquarters in Paris.

The Stade squad, including captain Sergio Parisse, the Italy skipper, are ready to accept the consequences of their strike, according to Tchale-Watchou.

Immediately after Friday's meeting, the LNR tweeted a comment from Tchale-Watchou, saying: "The Stade Francais players have made a decision and accept its consequences."

In another LNR tweet, Tchale-Watchou added: "If the strike is lifted, then we can start on a constructive discussion."

Also after Friday's meeting Stade president Thomas Savare, one of the two protagonists along with Racing chief Jacky Lorenzetti, was quoted in a LNR tweet, saying: "There is a fierce desire of the two presidents to implement this project because it is an exciting project."

Another meeting between the two clubs will take place on Monday evening.

An LNR statement on Friday morning read: "The stakeholders of the project to merge Stade Francais Paris and Racing 92 clubs were gathered this morning on the initiative of the NRL. The exchanges took place in a good atmosphere, allowing the resumption of the dialogue.

"All parties agreed to meet at 6pm on Monday at the NRL headquarters to continue discussions.

"The participants of the meeting: the representatives of the two sports companies, the two associations, the players and the staff."

Defending Top 14 champions Racing sit a disappointing eighth in the league table, three places above Stade whose players are particularly concerned for their futures.

Should Stade's squad continue to strike, there could be a consequence for Welsh club Ospreys who are due to host the Parisians in a European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final on April 2.

Racing are out of Europe having exited the European Rugby Champions Cup at the group stage.


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