We continue our overview of the teams involved in the 2022/2023 campaign of the EPCR Challenge Cup, with today a focus on the French team of Stade Français Paris who turned out in Pool B.
Achievements in the EPCR Challenge Cup
Stade Français won the tournament once, in 2017, beating Gloucester Rugby in the final (25-17), at BT Murrayfield. The Soldats Roses have also finished twice as finalists: in 2011, falling against Harlequins in Cardiff (19-18), then two years later, at the RDS Arena in Dublin, losing against Leinster Rugby (34- 13).
Journey last season
The TOP 14 team qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions Cup by finishing in eighth and last qualifying place in Pool B, thanks to a breathless victory, at home, against Connacht Rugby (34-31) , on the fourth day. But the Parisians then fell against Racing 92 (aggregate score, 55-31).
Gonzalo Quesada is in his second term at the helm of Stade Français, after a first experience in the capital, between 2013 and 2017, where he led the Soldats Roses to success in the Challenge Cup. The 48-year-old former Argentinian fly-half – who played a total of 22 EPCR competition appearances for Narbonne, Béziers, Stade Français and Section Paloise between 2000 and 2006 – also coached Racing 92, Biarritz Olympique and the Jaguares.
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Stade Français has a rich squad with French, South African, Australian, Argentinian, Georgian, Tongan and Samoan internationals. We can cite in particular thes Georgian props Giorgi Melikidze and Vasil Kakovin, French second row Paul Gabrillagues and Argentinian flanker Marcos Kremer. Pile of the Springboks, Vincent Koch also joined Stade Français recently. Scrum-half Morgan Parra (74 caps) leads the three-quarter line made up between the other of former Wallabies winger Sefa Naivalu and Tongan full-back Telusa Veainu.
On the occasion of the first day of Pool BStade Français Paris will host Benetton Rugby at Jean Bouin on December 9, before traveling to South Africa a week later to face the Emirates Lions. The return match against the South African franchise will take place on January 14. Les Soldats Roses will close their group stage against Benetton, Italy on January 21.