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Stormers qualify despite farcical end as Stade's scrum fell apart

By Rugby365
Stormers' Ben Loader (C-L) fights for the ball with Stade Francais' Fijian wing Peniasi Dakuwaqa (C-R) during the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 4 rugby union match between Stade Francais (FRA) and DHL Stormers (RSA) at the Jean Bouin stadium in Paris, on January 20, 2024. (Photo by Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

The Stormers not only confirmed their place in the Champions Cup Round Of 16, but they also ensured they will host the game when Europe’s premier competition reaches the play-offs in April.

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Outscoring their hosts by four tries to three in a dramatic match at Stade Jean Bouin, in Paris – with some farcical scenes in the closing 10 minutes – the Stormers beat Stade Français 24-20 to secure second place in a very tough Pool Four.

Before Sunday’s final pool match between defending champions La Rochelle and Sale Sharks, Irish province Leinster tops the pool with 19 points, followed by the Stormers (14 points), Leicester (nine), La Rochelle (seven), Sale (five) and bottom-place Stade Francais (two).

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The winner of the La Rochelle versus Sharks match will finish third in the pool, at best.

And the loss means the famous Paris team has been knocked out of not only the Champions Cup, but also won’t feature in the Challenge Cup – a spot reserved for teams finishing fifth in the top tier.

The Stormers now have a four-week break – their next match is a United Rugby Championship encounter with the Sharks in Durban on February 17.

It affords them the perfect time to reset, after a game that was as energy-sapping as it was dramatic.

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Match Summary

1
Penalty Goals
0
3
Tries
4
1
Conversions
2
0
Drop Goals
0
96
Carries
84
5
Line Breaks
5
9
Turnovers Lost
14
5
Turnovers Won
6

It took Stade Français just a minute to open the scoring – a turnover inside their 22 saw Andy Timo step through the visiting defence and over the line. Joris Segonds hooked the conversion attempt to the right of the posts, but the home team was up and running – 5-0.

The Stormers settled quickly, winning a scrum penalty and setting up a line-out. From the maul, scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies sniped around the short side and in at the corner. Libbok’s conversion was also wide – 5-all after 11 minutes.

An offside penalty allowed Segonds to reclaim the lead – 8-5 after 13 minutes.

That lead didn’t last long – a penalty allowing the Stormers to set a line-out five metres out and Ruben van Heerden converting the opportunity into a try. Libbok was timed out, as he took more than the required 90 second with the conversion attempt – 10-8.

A penalty that was reversed because of a lack of discipline by Stormers skipper Deon Fourie, gifted the home team, an attacking line-out, which became another penalty five metres out. Segonds faked kicking for touch, then tapped and two quick phases later Lester Etien was over. Segonds added the conversion – and the home team was back in the lead – 15-10.

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The Stormers had a couple more opportunities to set up mauls close to the home team’s line, but Stade Français held firm and took that five-point lead into the half-time break.

Stade Français piled on the pressure right from the restart and after a couple of near misses, flank Mathieu Hirigoyen burst over from close range. Segonds was again wide of the mark with the conversion – 20-10.

The Stormers coughed up a couple of chances, allowing the ball to go unprotected at the breakdown and then having possession ripped from their grasp.

Just short of the hour mark Hendré Stassen barged over from close range, after fellow replacement Hacjivah Dayimani made some good ground. Manie Libbok succeeded with his first kick of the day and suddenly the gap closed to just three points – 17-20.

With just over 13 minutes remaining Stade Français was reduced to 14 men, when Francisco Gomez Kodela was yellow-carded for repeated scrum penalties. Almost immediately that became 12 – Clement Castets yellow carded for another couple of collapsed scrums and because the Stormers wanted to scrum it went to uncontested scrums and Stade Français had to lose a conditional player.

The game turned into a massive, farcical debate about how many players the French team had on the pitch.

After almost five minutes of reset scrums and debate, Manie Libbok strolled over for the try to put the Stormers back into the lead. Libbok added the conversion – 24-20

The game then descended into another bout of farcical debates about numbers as one of the yellow-carded players returned.

And then the Stormers conceded a scrum penalty, as the scrums became contested again.

However, the men from Cape Town hung on in desperation and won a breakdown penalty to finish the game.

 

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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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