Stade's Parisse wants Challenge Cup to crown 'craziest season'

Fri, 12 May 2017 12:52
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NEWS: Stade Francais captain Sergio Parisse said his side were desperate to cap the "craziest season" he has known at the Paris club by winning the European Challenge Cup final against Gloucester.

Friday's match at Murrayfield gives both clubs the chance to put their disappointing domestic campaigns to one side.

For Stade, the season has been overshadowed by a controversial proposal to merge with Paris rivals Racing 92. That resulted in a players' strike before the plan was abandoned.

"We are very motivated," Parisse told reporters at Edinburgh's Murrayfield on Thursday. "This season has been very difficult, but we must not forget the journey that we made to qualify for this final,"

The outstanding Italy back row, whose side missed out on a play-off place in France's Top 14, added: "We deserve to be here. We remained solid and united through adversity this season. There was a questioning of everyone.

"Maybe our level of motivation was a bit flat, but we did not let go. No matter what happens, it will be the craziest season I've had at Stade Francais,"

Meanwhile Scotland's Matt Scott urged English Premiership side Gloucester to "salvage something tangible" from their campaign.

If Gloucester triumph on Friday, they would win the second-tier Challenge Cup for a record-equalling third time. They would also go into the European Champions Cup play-offs, likewise featuring Stade, where they would need two wins to become the final team that qualifies for next season's elite tournament.

Scott, whose last Murrayfield appearance saw the centre score a try for Scotland against Parisse's Italy during the Six Nations, was well aware of what was at stake.

"We didn't achieve Champions Cup qualification in the Premiership, but we have this game as a last chance to get into the Champions Cup [play-offs]," Scott said.

"It has been a long, hard shift this season, but we have got to say we have got two or three more weeks to salvage something tangible from our season.

"The chance to win silverware doesn't come around very often in professional sport. There are lots of fantastic players who have not won silverware in their careers - that's the way it happens.

"We have got to grasp this opportunity with both hands and we've got the added incentive of trying to secure top European rugby at Kingsholm next season,"

Agence France-Presse