Weekends follow one another but are not the same at the Stade Français. After a completely missed performance in Pau (30-6 defeat, no tries scored), followed by a controversial 3rd half that could cost one of its players a dismissal (Giovanni Habel-Kuffner is called up this Tuesday), the Parisian club offered a completely different scenario to its supporters this Sunday evening, at the Jean-Bouin stadium against Toulouse (27-12 victory).
"We had a week where we needed character," admitted Paris coach Karim Ghezal. His players were able to transcend themselves to give the best of themselves in a match where, this time, everything went their way. Defensive and offensive efficiency, perfect physical preparation, dramatization of the historical stakes with the club's 140th anniversary, and an alliance of experienced veterans and young players: this is the winning cocktail of the weekend for Stade Français.
Toulouse manager Ugo Mola was the first to praise the Parisians' formidable defence, especially this first half with zero points despite the dominance of his players. "They also have an opportunistic team, with a great conquest. Congratulations to them and to the young players who made the difference tonight," said Ugo Mola after the match, pointing to 20-year-old Paris prop Sergo Abramishvili, who was waiting patiently at the press conference.
Weaknesses identified in Toulouse's defence
"Sergo is showing that he is one of the best pillars in the league," said Karim Ghezal. We also have Charles Laloi who scores his first try, Mamoudou Meité who makes a good comeback. Young people are not default choices, they are there because they deserve it. And we also have the veterans who are holding their own, like Mickaël Ivaldi who plays 70 minutes." The excellent comeback of the eternal Rory Kockott, 37 years old, also made the difference.
Just like the dazzling performance of 21-year-old Léo Barré at the back. "Leo, in terms of all the physical and rugby data, he's on top of everything in training," explains Ghezal. He needed to show it, and we're happy for him to have a game like this, here for the Clasico."
In addition to the winning cocktail of individuals, Stade Français also succeeded collectively. The connection in defence, led by England coach Paul Gustard, has once again proved its worth. In attack, Ghezal paid tribute to the work of his assistant Morgan Parra.
"We decided to do a less intense, more qualitative week"
"We had identified gaps in Toulouse's defence," reveals Léo Barré. We had to avoid playing too far out wide where Toulouse wanted to take us, and attack the inside shoulders". Stade Français managed to make it happen in those intervals, with a brace from Barré, a first-hand try and another from a clear move initiated by Kockott.
In this turbulent week behind the scenes, Stade Français also prioritised recovery and was able to count on players at the top of their game. Where Toulouse's XXL bench (Dupont, Jelonch, Meafou, Mauvaka) was eagerly awaited to make the difference, it was finally the Parisians who kept up the pace. "We decided to do a less intense, more qualitative week. And the players were able to bring a lot of intensity tonight. The medical and physical preparation have done a remarkable job, the players have broken records," said Ghezal.
Finally, Stade Français added a pinch of emotion to galvanise its troops for this Clasico, placed under the sign of the 140th anniversary of the Parisian club. "We talked about it with Morgan (Parra), we showed a video with Laurent (Labit) about the history of the club. It touched us, to see all these photos in the corridors. We are a big club, atypical, with character. The players were keen to show that they had the potential to play for this historic club. »