TOP 14 7TH
LAST FIXTURE STADE FRANCAIS 23 R METRO 19
LAURENT LABIT AND LAURENT TRAVERS
In charge at Sade Yves du Manoir are a pair of faces that will be more than familiar to the Saints’ European followers. The ‘two Laurents’ previously coached Castres, the Saints’ perennial French opponents in the Heineken Cup, having met in each of the previous four seasons.
It was that spell in the South of France that earned Labit and Travers the opportunity at Racing, the big spending side snapping up the duo after they brought the Top 14 title to Castres in 2013 – the side’s first French crown in 20 years.
Labit takes charge of the backs and is was a Top 14 title winner with Castres as a player in 1993.
Meanwhile, the distinctive Travers leads the forwards. Also successful in his playing days, the 45-year-old helped Brive win the 1997 Heineken Cup.
Their first season in charge at Racing ended in a 5th placed finish before a playoff run was ended at the semi-final stage by eventual champions Toulon.
It’s hard to find a single position in the Racing squad that isn’t covered by at least two internationals, making singling out key men all the more difficult among the big spenders’ squad.
That said, skipper and France hooker Dimitri Szarzewski is of course one of the side’s leaders and his personal battle with Dylan Hartley will be one to watch.
The presence of four British and Irish Lions is also likely to grab plenty of headlines, Mike Phillips and Jonny Sexton a potential half-back pairing with Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate also plying their trade in the French capital.
On a similar theme to the coaches, the French international trio of Luc Ducalcon, Antonie Claassen and Brice Dulin made the switch from Castres to Paris last season, classy full back Dulin having impressed in last season’s Heineken Cup.
STADE YVES DU MANOIR
Named after legendary Racing fly half Yves du Manoir, Racing’s home in Colombes was the main stadium for the 1924 Olympics – a unique claim among club rugby stadiums in the Champions Cup.
Further to that, Stade Yves du Manoir also hosted the FIFA World Cup final in 1938, as well as 42 French Cup finals and remains home to the soccer branch of the Racing Club 92.
Re-designed for the Olympics by former player and architect Louis Faure-Dujarri, capacity now sits at 15,000, though at one stage during the 1924 Olympics it is claimed to have welcomed crowds of around 60,000.
Having played at the site since formation in 1890, Racing had intended to renovate ‘Colombes’, though plans are now confirmed for the brand new 32,000-capacity ‘Arena 92’ to be built in nearby Nanterre.
Stade Yves du Manoir is situated some 40 minutes north-west of the centre of Paris, with train lines running close to the stadium. Stations at Stade and Colombes are just a five-minutes’ walk away and serviced from central Paris on the Saints-Lazare line.
Match tickets remain available for the game, though only direct from Racing Metro.
You can buy online from just €8 on the terrace or €14 seated HERE