Top 14
Delmas laments 'black year' for Stade
Ian Moriarty
March 29, 2010
Perpignan prop Nicolas Mas takes on Stade Francais scrum-half Noel Oelschig during their Top 14 clash at Stade Aime-Giral, Perpignan, France, March 27, 2010
Nicolas Mas takes the fight to Stade Francais © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Serge Blanco
Tournaments/Tours: French Top 14

This season it seems, just continues to go from bad to worse for Stade Francais. Reportedly under investigation by French rugby's financial watchdog for debts approaching €2.5m, Max Guazzini's club all but relinquished any hope of a spot in the play-offs with a 44-23 loss away to Perpignan at the weekend.

According to Midi Olympique, Stade, Bourgoin and Montauban will be called before the DNACG after alerting the watchdog with their financial difficulties. While Stade should be able to clear their debts by dipping into their reserve fund and through sponsors, their plight is a stark warning their big-spending rivals.

"It's been a black year," coach Jacques Delmas told l'Equipe. "[The match] was proof that it's a team with no confidence living through difficult times. We're accumulating mistakes. And with the 10-12-13 axis of the Catalans, we paid a heavy price. It's a match to forget."

Meanwhile, delighted Biarritz president Serge Blanco said he hopes his side's 26-10 victory over Toulouse will 'trigger' some necessary form ahead of their Heineken Cup quarter final against the Ospreys.

"There was satisfaction in seeing the group playing to their potential and to know that Biarritz is still on course," said Blanco, in an interview with Sud Ouest. "But there was also relief. There was a lot of pressure there. It was Toulouse in front of us, in fairness.

"Hopefully this victory will be the trigger. It could give us the boost in confidence we need from the perspective of our European quarter final against the Ospreys."

Finally, thanks to a Felipe Contepomi inspired 9-13 win away to Bourgoin on Friday night, Toulon climbed into top spot overnight for the first time in nearly 20 years, prompting president Mourad Boudjellal to become somewhat misty-eyed at the thought.

"Thanks to the four points, Toulon is leader for one day," Boudjellal told Midi Olympique. "It's somewhat symbolic for some because how often are Toulon top of the Championship, even if only in a fleeting way? At this stage, you could say that we've qualified for the play-offs. We played well at Bourgoin and closed the book entitled: 'Qualification for the playoffs.' Now we can start another, entitled: 'The quest for the holy grail'."


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