Racing take Top 14 summit with Stade Francais win

Sat, Nov 18, 2023, 11:25 PM
by AFP
Racing held on for victory to go to the top of the Top 14. Photo: AFP
Racing held on for victory to go to the top of the Top 14. Photo: AFP

South Africa's two-time Rugby World Cup winning captain Siya Kolisi watched from the stands as his new club Racing 92 beat local rivals Stade Francais 13-9 on Saturday to move to the summit of the French Top 14.

Kolisi, 32, joined the side after lifting a second Webb Ellis trophy late last month and will make his debut for the Parisians next Sunday against La Rochelle.

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The iconic Springbok followed the game alongside Chelsea captain Reece James, as the footballer benefitted from his free time during the international break to take in the match. The pair are represented by the same agency, Jay-Z's Roc Nation.

Racing's victory in rainy conditions moved them above Stade Francais to top of the table based on their head-to-head record.

"I've been involved in many big derbies internationally with England-Wales, England-France, or club level with Leinster-Munster, and it's right up there the feeling in the changing room," said Racing coach Stuart Lancaster.

"It wasn't perfect, but I felt all the big players stood up and played and we deserved it in the end," the former England and Leinster boss added.

Kolisi's new outfit led 10-6 at the break thanks to centre Henry Chavancy's try and four points from the boot of South African fly-half Tristan Tedder.

Stade Francais fly-half Joris Segonds made it a one-point game just after the interval with his third penalty of the match.

Racing, champions in 2016, held on for victory, an eighth straight at their rivals' Stade Jean-Bouin, as promising French scrum-half Nolann Le Garrec kicked a 54th-minute penalty.

- 'Inspiration' Jones -

Later, Test rugby's most capped player in former Wales and British and Irish Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones made the final appearance of his career as Toulon edged Clermont 30-27 for their first win at Stade Marcel-Michelin in eight years.

"We played for Alun Wyn Jones tonight, and this result doesn't surprise me, because we have players just like him: humble, hard-working," Toulon assistant coach Sergio Parisse said. 

"He's a source of inspiration for our team," the ex-Italy skipper added.

Pau failed to leapfrog Racing losing 35-16 to Bayonne, a first defeat to the Basques since 2005.

Perpignan moved from bottom spot, beating Montpellier, who were 13th in the table, 23-16 thanks to English winger Ali Crossdale's acrobatic 71st minute try.

According to specialist website Rugbyrama, Montpellier have handed controversial former France head coach Bernard Laporte an offer to take over as director of rugby and help Cockerill. 

Laporte resigned from his position  as French Rugby Federation president in January after being found guilty of favouritism in awarding a shirt sponsorship contract for the national side to Mohed Altrad, Montpellier's billionaire owner.

Later, France captain Antoine Dupont unusually started at fly-half as Toulouse lost 31-23 at Castres as the hosts went up to third thanks to impressive performances from French playmaker Pierre Popelin and Australian lock Tom Staniforth.

On Sunday, Bordeaux-Begles visit double Champions Cup winners La Rochelle, who have tasted victory just twice this campaign.