Sergio Parisse took to Twitter to thank Stade Francais for giving him the chance of playing for the French Top 14 club for 14 seasons.
However, beneath the seemingly amicable parting lies a story of a fast-deteriorating relationship which resulted in the Italian talisman quitting the club a year before his contract was due to expire in 2020.
Stade Francais was in its Max Guazzini pomp and cermony heyday when Parisse first came on board in June 2005 and it was notable how the 35-year-old Italian forward included the former Stade owner in his social media sign-off while at the same time making no mention of the current regime.
He wrote: “Thank you, Max. Thank you to the players, friends, brothers. Thank you to the fans and all those who have contributed to making this incredible love story possible!! Thank you Paris!!”
Parisse’s message had followed a brief statement by the club confirming that they are to go their separate ways. “Stade Francais and Sergio Parisse have decided by mutual agreement to put an end to the contract that binds them,” it read.
Merci Max, merci aux joueurs/amis/frères, merci aux supporters et à tous ceux et celles qui ont contribué à rendre cette incroyable histoire d’amour possible!! Merci Paris!! ????????? pic.twitter.com/4Ysxw9Ogsy
— sergio parisse (@sergioparisse) June 28, 2019
“Sergio Parisse wishes good luck and a lot of success at the Stade Francais. Stade Francais thanks its captain for 15 years of success in Parisian colours.”
What gives? According to French newspaper L’Equipe, Stade were concerned that the player who won two league titles was no longer the great he once was. Calf and knee injuries had restricted his availability to just 11 of Stade’s 26 Top 14 matches this past season.
This lay-off wasn’t helped by an alleged undercurrent of dissatisfaction on Parisse’s part with how the club was being run under that baton of South African coach Heyneke Meyer.
?Communiqué officiel – Vendredi 28 juin 2019#SFParis
— Stade Français Paris (@SFParisRugby) June 28, 2019
Parisse’s friend Julien Dupuy was dismissed from Meyer’s staff in January. Then Stade revealed they wanted Parisse to stop playing at the end of the 2018/19 season and instead join their management staff for next season.
This was a ploy aimed at getting the costly Parisse off their salary cap, as coaches’ wages are not included, but this plan backfired when the Italian decided not to accept their offer.
Then in May, it is alleged that prior to the league derby versus Parisian rivals Racing, Parisse told owner Hans-Pieter Wild what he felt were some home truths about the German’s running of the club.
@sergioparisse…j’avais imaginé un hommage immense à la hauteur de ton amour pour ce club et de ta classe sur le terrain et en dehors! Je mesure la chance d’avoir eu à mes côtés l’exceptionnel et unique joueur, mais surtout l’ami que tu es et que tu resteras #lafamille ? pic.twitter.com/Fk1zvwnuiv
— Pierre Rabadan (@PierreRabadan) June 28, 2019
The fall-out now sees Parisse become the third big name to exit Stade in recent weeks. Alexandre Flanquart was released from his contract and allowed to join Bordeaux, while Djibril Camara was sacked for alleged gross misconduct before signing for Bayonne.
Now, Parisse has departed. He will be free to fully concentrate on preparations for Italy’s World Cup campaign in Japan later this year where they are drawn in a pool with New Zealand and South Africa.
However, it is unclear if the veteran intends to fully quit the game following the finals or line up a different club.
Parisse spent a number of seasons playing for Treviso before signing for Stade 14 years ago and a return to the Italians would surely be an attractive development for their profile following a season where they qualified for the PRO14 knockout stages for the first time and secured Champions Cup qualification.
In the meantime, what is clear is that Friday was a dramatic day at Stade’s training centre. Parisse had attended in the morning for an individual gym session, yet by the afternoon the club had released a six-line statement to signal his sudden departure. Quite an ending after 14 years.
WATCH: Episode four of the RugbyPass Rugby Explorer series where Jim Hamilton treks through Italian rugby and spends time in Treviso
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