Players: French club merger hatched in secret
REACTION: A plan to merge top French clubs Racing 92 and Stade Francais was hatched in secret behind the back of the players, French international Jonathan Danty said Tuesday.
"It's hard to swallow," said Danty, 24, the Stade Francais centre who is training with the French team for the Six Nations match against Wales in Paris on Saturday.
"We were always told we were the future of the club and that if we left, the club would be in danger. And now we find out they did this behind out backs," he said.
Danty, who has four international caps, was speaking a day after Racing's billionaire owner Jacky Lorenzetti and Stade Francais counterpart Thomas Savare made the bombshell announcement.
Rival clubs expressed fears over the creation of a new super club while the French Rugby Federation and the Paris government complained they had been kept in the dark about the move.
Lorenzetti paved the way for a cull of players, saying half the combined roster of professionals could be axed.
"They've got 45 players, we've got 45 players, 45 + 45 = 45," he said.
"Merit will be the criteria, probably youth and the factor of being selectable" for France, Lorenzetti said.
Danty, along with teammate Djibril Camara, also in the squad for the Wales game, took part in a protest by more than a dozen players and a crowd of more the 100 fans against the proposed merger at the club's Jean-Bouin stadium in Paris on Monday.
Both players left the Marcoussis French national training centre in the southern suburbs of the city without asking permission from coach Guy Noves to travel to the protest but said they would take the consequences for taking a stand against the merger plan.
"I take full responsibility for going there. I don't know if Guy was in agreement or not but I doubt it, said Camara. "If I am punished, so be it."
Camara, who plays fullback, said his future was up in the air.
"Maybe next year I will be somewhere else, maybe in Federal 1 [third division]," he said.
He said he had had no contact with Stade owner Savare.
"Who? Don't ask me about that after he just screwed me over."
He said the merger of the two rival clubs was like asking two families who hate each other to move in together.
"We are all shocked, all sad. This is two top 14 clubs finished."