Gonzalo Quesada is back in charge at Stade Francais, the troubled Parisian club recruiting their former coach in the hope he can revive the glory days that include Top 14 success in 2015 and the European Challenge Cup in 2017.
Quesada last year guided the Buenos Aires-based Jaguares to a first-ever Super Rugby final and with Stade in turmoil after the unravelling of the Heyneke Meyer project and the exit of the divisive South African last November, owner Hans-Peter Wild has convinced the Argentine to return.
Such a move was deemed unlikely at the start of this year as Quesada wanted to build on the excellent progress he had made with the Jaguares, who would have been 2019 champions but for defeat in the final at the home of the New Zealand-based Crusaders.
However, the outbreak of the 2020 season-stopping Covid-19 pandemic and the decision by a number of Argentina-based players to seek out contracts abroad left Quesada more open to an approach and he will now become head coach at the French club and work with Laurent Sempere and Julien Arias, the pair who have been at the helm since the ousting of Meyer.
A club statement announcing the recruitment of their former coach read: “It is with immense pleasure and great pride that Stade Francais announce the return of Gonzalo Quesada, winner of the Top 14 in 2015 and the European Challenge in 2017.
??? i Bienvenido a casa Gonza !
C’est avec un immense plaisir et une grande fierté que le Stade Français Paris annonce le retour de son Entraîneur en Chef, Gonzalo Quesada, vainqueur du TOP 14 en 2015 et du Challenge Européen en 2017.#SFParis
— Stade Français Paris (@SFParisRugby) June 5, 2020
“Our capital club will count on the great experience and enthusiasm of its new head coach to start a new cycle and return to sporting success. Former player and then coach of Stade Francais, Gonzalo knows perfectly the culture of the club and the requirements of the Top 14.
“His return is a new strong sign of the ambition of Stade Francais for the seasons to come. The coaching staff will therefore be composed of Gonzalo Quesada, Laurent Sempere and Julien Arias. A press conference will be organised shortly with Dr Hans-Peter Wild and Gonzalo Quesada.”
The recruitment of Quesada is a marked shift at the club as general manager Thomas Lombard said only last month that the Argentine would not be returning. “Never” he replied when asked if the return of Quesada was a possibility.
Stade were bottom of the table with just five wins in 17 outings when the 2019/20 season was stopped in March. That campaign has since been cancelled, meaning Quesada will have a clean slate when he takes the reins for 2020/21. Ex-France international back row Christophe Moni will also become new team manager at the club.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now