Heyneke Meyer’s transformation of Stade Francais continues at pace in the French capital, with the former Springbok coach having taken significant steps to mould the squad to his liking since his appointment last year.
Fellow South Africans James Hall, Lional Mapoe and Ruan Combrinck are all set to arrive this summer, while Argentina’s Pablo Matera and Australia’s Sefa Naivalu are among the other players that have been scouted and acquired by Meyer.
It was a disappointing debut season in charge for the 51-year-old as Stade only managed to finish eighth in the Top 14, missing out on qualification for the Heineken Champions Cup in the 2019/20 season.
Preparations for the new season have also suffered a blow, with L’Equipe reporting that back row Hendre Stassen could be facing a ban of up to four years after the South African tested positive for steroid use.
Stassen tested positive on a sample that was taken after Stade’s game against Montpellier back in May and although the 21-year-old requested that his B sample also be tested, that too was found to give a positive result.
Info L'Équipe. La contre-expertise effectuée sur l'échantillon B du troisième-ligne du Stade Français, Hendré Stassen, a confirmé un contrôle positif à la testostérone. Âgé de 21 ans, il devrait être suspendu entre deux et quatre ans https://t.co/2U7ry3LTmB pic.twitter.com/HhFCZXYkv9
— L'ÉQUIPE (@lequipe) July 23, 2019
The lock had been informed on July 10 that his sample had produced an abnormal testosterone result and was initially suspended, and he will meet on Tuesday with the AFLD (French Agency for the Fight Against Doping) and his lawyer, Olivier Martin.
The most recent case of doping in the Top 14 occurred in 2014 when Toulouse’s Chiliboy Ralepelle tested positive for drostanolene. The South African hooker subsequently served a two-year-ban before returning to professional rugby with the Sharks, where he once again tested positive for steroid use.
Stassen had established himself as a key piece in Meyer’s jigsaw at Stade last season and his loss would prove to be a substantial blow for the club. Should Stassen be found guilty of doping, his ban will range from two to four years.
WATCH: The latest RugbyPass documentary, Foden – Stateside, looks at how ex-England international Ben Foden is settling into Major League Rugby in New York
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.