Racing 92 not united in protest

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 08:50
Large racing 92 general 800

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Racing 92 players are not united enough to follow Stade Francais by striking and refusing to play in the Top 14 this weekend.

The Stade Francais players are protesting at controversial plans to merge the two Paris giants.

As players from both squads - many of whom are facing imminent unemployment - prepared to meet French national league (LNR) officials on Friday, national champions Racing said they were unable to agree on a campaign of opposition.

"All the players are deeply concerned about the future of the two entities," a players statement, penned by the likes of All Blacks legend Dan Carter, said on Twitter.

"Following a meeting of the professional squad and the youth team, we observed that there are too many differences of opinion to initiate any collective action.

"We nevertheless remain supportive of one another in face of this unprecedented situation,"

Racing's billionaire owner Jacky Lorenzetti and Stade Francais counterpart Thomas Savare announced the shock merger plan on Monday.

Stade Francais players voted overwhelmingly for strike action and will not train or play in Saturday's Top 14 clash against Castres.

Stade have found support from Top 14 rivals Toulon, who announced that their players would wear pink armbands in Sunday's match at Grenoble. Pink is the team colour of the Paris club.

Earlier in the week, Toulon's outspoken president Mourad Boudjellal, who has often jousted with Lorenzetti in the past, was scathing of the merger.

"An empty stadium plus an empty stadium will perhaps be a half-empty stadium," he scoffed.

The players union, Provale, on Thursday appealed to fans attending this weekend's club matches to also dress in pink.

"Rugby, it's more than sport - it's a human adventure, a passion, a history and a heritage," said a Provale statement.

Opposition to the merger also came from an organisation comprised of former Stade players who accused Lorenzetti and Savare of "casting aside 135 years of history".

They added in a statement sent to AFP that the move will "lead inevitably to the disappearance of Stade Francais".

Agence France-Presse