2001 pain still with Stade Français

Date published: April 7 2016

Stade Français president Thomas Savare has admitted he still feels the pain of their 2001 European Cup final defeat to Leicester Tigers.

Ahead of facing the Tigers at Welford Road in the quarter-finals on Sunday, the Parisians are languishing in twelfth spot in the Top 14.

That means all of the team’s hopes are now in the European basket but for Savare, the agony of 15 years ago might not ever go away.

“I was in the stands at the Parc des Princes in 2001 and it’s true that there are still scars,” he told Sky Sports ahead of this weekend.

“In the Top 14 we’ll most likely not reach our objectives. In the European Cup our first aim was the quarter-finals. Now we’re there it’s the final, we have to win three matches and first of all the first on Sunday.

“It is also a title Stade Français haven’t won, so of course it’s an ambition of the club to win one day.”

Stade Français have been a shadow of their Top 14 title-winning self this season in their domestic league, something that Savare hopes a victory will help gloss over on Sunday.

“It’s true of all teams, when you fear the opponent, you’re more vigilant, stronger,” he added.

“We committed some sins of pride this year that have cost us. We all know that it will be extremely difficult [against Leicester], at a big club accustomed to the finals.

“But it’s sure that with the return to the European Cup, the players are very motivated for this competition.

“This is one of the few games this season where we have all our players, where there is competition to win a place. The team is complete.”