Thursday 11 December 2014 – 8.45pm (7.45pm UK time)
Stade Jean Bouin, Paris
European Challenge Cup Pool 3 #4
It’s the second half of our double-header with Stade tomorrow night, the Falcons travelling to gay Paris with the aim of defending a 100% record in Pool 3 of the Challenge Cup and put one foot in the quarter-finals.
I was feeling extremely confident when I saw on the Sky Sports listings that they were showing Grenoble v Stade last night, but it turned out that they had the date wrong and that game is next week. Never mind.
After our 30-23 win against the Frenchmen at KP on Friday night, we have 14 points in the pool, three more than Newport Gwent Dragons who won 10-37 in Bucharest Wolves and have the return of that tie in Rodney Parade on Friday. Stade are third with just five points from their three games, and Bucharest have just the one.
Looking around the other pools at the halfway stage, the Dragons are among the leading second-placed teams at the moment, and a win tomorrow night should give us a great chance of at least progressing as one of the best runners-up.
Not much I can say about Stade that I didn’t last week, so I thought I’d compare their home record against English clubs in Europe to ours away to French sides.
Stade at home v English clubs (Heineken Cup unless stated):
1997/98 London Irish L28-29 (Challenge Cup)
1997/98 Gloucester W53-22 (Challenge Cup QF)
1999/2000 Leicester W38-16
2000/01 Wasps W40-10
2000/01 Leicester L30-34 (Final)
2001/02 Wasps W31-0
2002/03 Harlequins W29-12 (Challenge Cup R2L2)
2002/03 Wasps L12-27 (Challenge Cup QFL2)
2003/04 Leicester W26-15
2004/05 Gloucester W39-31
2004/05 Newcastle W48-8 (QF)
2005/06 Leicester W12-6
2006/07 Sale W27-16
2007/08 Harlequins W37-17
2007/08 Bristol W19-11
2008/09 Harlequins L10-15
2009/10 Bath W15-13
2010/11 Leeds W39-10 (Challenge Cup)
2011/12 Worcester W33-10 (Challenge Cup)
2011/12 Exeter W22-17 (Challenge Cup QF)
2012/13 London Welsh W39-17 (Challenge Cup)
2013/14 London Irish W32-14 (Challenge Cup)
2013/14 Harlequins L6-29 (Challenge Cup QF)
That’s a formidable record of eighteen wins and just five defeats. What’s more, it’s just four defeats at the Stade Jean Bouin against English clubs (the 2001 final was played at the Parc des Princes), and only Harlequins winning at Stade’s spiritual home over the past decade.
I was surprised to see that the Falcons’ record over the Channel isn’t really that great (Challenge Cup or equivalent unless stated):
1997/98 Perpignan W27-13
1997/98 Biarritz L28-32
1997/98 Agen L9-12 (SF)
1999/2000 Narbonne W20-19
1999/2000 Stade Aurillacois L10-17
1999/2000 Pau L20-36 (QF)
2000/01 Begles-Bordeaux W26-18
2001/02 Toulouse L13-33 (Heineken Cup)
2002/03 Grenoble W19-12 (R1L1)
2003/04 Montferrand L13-25 (R2L2)
2004/05 Perpignan L12-33 (Heineken Cup)
2004/05 Stade Francais L8-48 (Heineken Cup QF)
2005/06 Brive W24-27
2006/07 Brive L12-41
2006/07 Montauban L10-16
2006/07 Clermont Auvergne L19-24 (QF)
2007/08 Brive W19-12
2008/09 Brive L22-36
2009/10 Montauban L19-24
2009/10 Albi W16-14
2010/11 Montpellier L8-32
2010/11 Bourgoin – Not played
2011/12 Toulon L10-36
2011/12 Lyon L13-21
2012/13 Brive L16-23
I make that seven wins from 24 games in Frenchland, and only one in the last five years. So that’s a bit of a record we need to improve tomorrow night.
Starts for Juan Pablo Socino, Rory Clegg, Ruki Tipuna, Calum Green and Alex Rogers are among seven changes to the team that won the first leg at KP last week, while Mark Wilson’s rest is over. Chris Harris switches to the wing.
Falcons team: 15 Simon Hammersley 14 Chris Harris 13 Adam Powell (c) 12 Juan Pablo Socino 11 Noah Cato 10 Rory Clegg 9 Ruki Tipuna 1 Eric Fry 2 George McGuigan 3 Alex Rogers 4 Calum Green 5 Kane Thompson 6 Sean Robinson 7 Andy Saull 8 Mark Wilson.
Replacements 16 Rob Hawkins 17 Rob Vickers 18 Mark Irving 19 Dom Barrow 20 Chris York 21 Andy Davies 22 Tom Catterick 23 Tom Penny.
Stade team: 15 Paul Williams, 14 Jérémy Sinzelle, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Krisnan Inu, 11 Djibril Camara, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jerome Fillol, 1 Zak Taulafo, 2 Remi Bonfils, 3 Davit Kubriashvili, 4 Hugh Pyle, 5 Gerhard Mostert, 6 Jonathan Ross, 7 Pierre Rabadan (c), 8 Raphael Lakafia.
Replacements: 16 Zurabi Zhvania, 17 Romain Frou, 18 Sofiane Chellat, 19 Paul Gabrillagues, 20 Matthieu Ugena, 21 Julien Tomas, 22 Vincent Mallet, 23 Jonathan Danty.
If you’re going over to Paris, have a great time, I wish I could be there with you! Hopefully you’ll get to have a singsong under the Big Metal Thingy.
For those back home in Blighty, don’t forget to tune in to Sky Sports 1 for the game. If you don’t have Sky, nip to the supermarket and buy a box of Carling that has a free 24-hour Now TV code on – that’s how the game will be viewed in the Village, and I definitely can’t wait for tomorrow night!!
(Follow The South Stand Choir on Twitter: @SouthStandChoir)