Stade Francais players have gone on strike over a planned merger with rival Top 14 Parisian club Racing 92.
“They’re on open-ended strike,” Robins Tchale-Watchou, head of the players’ union, said via text.
The clubs announced the surprise merger on Monday, saying it would create a new, stronger ‘super club’ that would pool resources enjoy a bigger fan base in the French capital.
Star players in the Racing 92 squad include New Zealand World Cup winners Dan Carter and Joe Rokocoko, while Stade Francais feature the likes of French international Pascal Pape and Italian captain Sergio Parisse.
However, news of the merger has not gone down well as neither players, staff nor supporters were informed until after the announcement. France’s Six Nations stars even thought it was a prank when Stade Francais and Racing tweeted the decision.
And Stade centre Jonathan Danty has revealed it has already sparked a rebellion in the Les Bleus camp.
Danty and wing Djibril Camara left the squad hotel on Monday, against the wishes of management, to meet with stunned Stade team-mates at a Paris restaurant.
Both Paris clubs released identical statements and expect France’s Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) to ratify the move.
Stade president Thomas Savare and Racing chief Jacky Lorenzetti believe the two Paris powerhouses are best served combining resources, throwing up the prospect of Carter playing alongside Parisse next term.
But the merger also puts jobs at risk, including those of players and coaches at both clubs, and it sent shock waves through the national team.
Danty said he had no forewarning of the announcement. “In my bedroom, at around 11 o’clock, I read about it on my phone,” he said. “My first reaction was to go and see (France colleague) Henry (Chavancy) to ask him if it was a joke.
“After that we had a meeting between players from the two clubs. We gathered in a bedroom to talk about it. And we really thought it was a joke, because it was unthinkable that such a thing should happen. And even today it’s a bitter pill to swallow. It’s very bizarre.”
He added: “We’ve always been told we’re the club’s future. We’ve often heard that if we leave, the club dies. And then we find out what’s been done behind our backs.”