French powerhouse stunned by Russian minnow

by AFP

Unheralded Russian side Krasny Yar pulled off one of the biggest shocks in club rugby when they beat defending European Challenge Cup champions Stade Francais, a result that left one of the Parisian club's coaches describing their performance as "catastrophic and ridiculous".

Russia flanker Viktor Gresev crossed for a brace of tries as Krasny Yar, runners-up in the Russian league and just the second team from the country to compete on the European stage, upset Stade 34-29 in Siberia.

Stade's captain for the game, winger Julien Arias, crossed for two of his own as the Parisians, Top 14 champions in 2015, led 12-5 at one stage.

But the Siberians rallied to pull away to 24-12 at half-time, Gresev scoring the decisive try after three other five-pointers from lock Andrei Mahu, and props Sione Fukofuka and Azamat Bitiev.

"What do you want me to say?" said Stade's assistant coach Julien Dupuy, quoted by the Midi Olympique newspaper.

"It was just rubbish. We were catastrophic, you could say ridiculous.

"When you don't respect your opponent and the basics of rugby, you lose, and that's it."

Greg Cooper has taken the Stade Francais reins this season. Photo: AfPDespite fielding a much-changed team from their normal Top 14 travails, Stade would have travelled to Russia fully believing that their strength in depth would see them through.

"There's still a lot of work to be done," said Dupuy. "This performance is not worthy of a Top 14 club and brings many things into question.

"I don't want to say anymore because I'd risk being rude."

Stade No 8 Bakary Meite said the team, which nevertheless scooped two losing bonus points, "did everything we weren't meant to".

"We played the ball back and forth in front of their defensive line without once attacking it. As soon as we injected some pace into it, we scored tries pretty easily.

"We've gone down in history in the most stupid way. Being part of a Stade Francais team that lost in Krasnoyarsk leaves me pissed off."

Domestically, Stade are languishing in 10th spot of the Top 14 and Kiwi head coach Greg Cooper faces a task to get his team back up for the next Challenge Cup game, against London Irish on Saturday.

Cooper took over from Argentinian Gonzalo Quesada, who guided Stade to the Challenge Cup title last season despite threats over their very existence until a proposed merger with Paris rivals Racing 92 fell through.

Stade were eventually bailed out by German billionaire businessman Hans-Peter Wild, a former soft drink magnate now chairman of the Paris club.