Money can't buy Heyneke Meyer's Stade success
TOP 14 WRAP: Bankrolled by a billionaire and boasting a squad bursting with international talent, Stade Francais still require a minor miracle if they are to avoid a fourth successive season of failing to make the French Top 14 play-offs.
On Sunday, the Paris giants slumped to a 25-41 defeat at home to Clermont, a result which allowed the visitors to ensure their place in the post-season along with Toulouse.
Stade are six points adrift of the final play-off spot with just three games left – trips to Racing 92 and Montpellier sandwiching the visit of Pau.
Failure to reach the play-offs would be a blow to South African coach Heyneke Meyer as well as club owner Hans-Peter Wild, the billionaire businessman whose wealth helped pay for the arrival of big-name stars such as Argentine playmaker Nicolas Sanchez and French standouts Gael Fickou and Yoann Maestri.
Sunday’s loss was a fifth at their Stade Jean-Bouin home this season and each time it has been against a play-off rival – Racing, La Rochelle, Lyon, Toulouse and now Clermont.
“I’m very disappointed. We played a decent game, especially in the first half but unfortunately, we showed too much indiscipline,” said captain Sergio Parisse in reference to yellow cards for winger Julien Arias and centre Fickou midway through the first half which left them temporarily down to 13 men.
“What’s missing at Stade Francais? We are not going to discuss everything. But we have to be more consistent in performances, especially at home where we have lost too many matches.
“We have had players injured and suspended yes, but just like all the other teams, and that’s part of the game.”
Stade had led 19-17 at the break on Sunday thanks to a try from hooker Remi Bonfils as well as five successful kicks at goal by Jules Plisson.
Clermont stayed in touch with a penalty try and a score from Fijian centre Apisai Naqualevu who added a second after the interval.
Australian hooker John Ulugia also grabbed a try as did prop Etienne Falgoux whose last-minute score ensured a bonus point for Clermont.
Scottish international flyhalf Greig Laidlaw booted a personal haul of 14 points.
On Saturday, table-toppers Toulouse ensured a semifinal spot with a 21-20 win at defending champions Castres.
However, Perpignan was relegated, 10 years after they won the last of their seven top-flight titles.
Perpignan’s fate was sealed by a 51-29 rout at home to La Rochelle, their 21st loss in 23 games this season.