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Dublin: 14 °C Wednesday 26 June, 2019
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The most eccentric club in France are edging closer to a return to the big time

The European Cup has been a lot less flamboyant without Stade Francais.

YOU WOULD MISS Stade Francais at Europe’s top table, wouldn’t you? Sure, Toulon play some great rugby but they lack the charm and the swagger that the Parisians exuded during their decade of dominance in French rugby.

And they don’t have nearly as many cheerleaders either.

We think of Guy Noves’ Toulouse as the top power in France in the professional era but between 1998-2007, the club from the capital claimed five of the ten Top 14 titles on offer.

And they looked damn good doing it.

This is the jersey they wore when dispatching Clermont in the Top 14 final in 2007, which was their last triumph. Not the traditional hooped style that many clubs go with, that’s for sure.

FRANCE RUGBY Source: Associated Press

The team’s style was dictated by the then owner, Max Guazzini, whose flamboyant nature showed up not only in Stade’s sartorial choices but also in the pre-match entertainment.

He booked out the Stade de France for big games and had cheerleaders, fireworks and stuntmen there to greet the fans.

bike

And while the club’s jerseys were usually flash, the team actually played a very traditional style, especially in their first four championship wins. With French international props Sylvain Marconnet and Pieter De Villiers anchoring their scrum, they regularly relied on the boot of Italian legend Diego Dominguez to kick their goals.

Their famous 34-30 defeat to Leicester in the 2001 Heineken Cup final remarkably saw the out-half kick all 30 points for the losers.

However, with players like Christophe Dominici and Juan Martin Hernandez in their backline, they were capable of cutting loose on occasion too.

dominici

stade

But the bubble burst and when Guazzini hit financial difficulties, the on-field product struggled significantly.  They haven’t competed in the European Cup since they were walloped by Toulouse in the Heineken Cup quarter-final in 2010 but this could be the year they rejoin the big time.

With five games left to go in the Top 14, Stade are in third and have an 11-point advantage over the seventh place team, so they have a great chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions Cup.

The jerseys aren’t as colourful anymore but the team is the best it has been since their naughties heyday. Jules Plisson and Morné Steyn have shared the ten duties very well this season while young centre Jonathan Danty (who scores in the GIF below) has been a real find.

Last weekend was the perfect example of how dangerous Stade have been with the ball in hand, as they obliterated Clermont 40-26.

danty

Source: BowserX4/YouTube

Hopefully if they do qualify for next season’s Champions Cup, they bust out one of these classic kits.

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It’s good to see that while Stade have made a few big-name signings recently like Digby Ioane, their latest resurgence is being driven on by strong home-grown talent.

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