Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Evans Has Stade Stars in His Eyes

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Evans Has Stade Stars in His Eyes

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRIS JONES

EUROPEAN rugby bursts back on to the scene this weekend with Harlequins facing a pound sterling4 million challenge, London Wasps attempting to win a glamour battle while Saracens and London Irish will be happy to walk away with moraleboosting wins.

Quins are home tomorrow to Stade Francais, one of the biggest names in Northern Hemisphere rugby, who find themselves involved in the Parker Pen Challenge Cup after failing to qualify for the ultimate European tournament, the Heineken Cup.

Despite operating in what is effectively the UEFA Cup of rugby, Stade boast a squad few clubs can match.

Mark Evans, the Quins chief executive and head coach, admitted: "It would probably cost us pound sterling4m to assemble the array of international talent Stade can boast and that's a bit difficult when English teams have a salary cap of less than pound sterling2m.

" I don' t believe the public appreciates just how many star names are at Stade, including France captain Fabien Galthie, Italy's Diego Dominguez and other internationals such as Pieter de Villiers, Stefan Glas and Christophe Dominici. It's a massive challenge and we are going out to enjoy ourselves."

Quins, minus Ireland No10 Paul Burke, are certain to run the ball at Stade, who will be missing the injured Galthie. England centre Will Greenwood steps into the outsidehalf role he used to fill as a schoolboy. England lock Alex Codling is also injured and Jim Evans, the England Under-21 forward, gets his chance to jump against Canadian Test regular Mike James.

The teams clash again in Paris next week, with the winner of the two legs facing either London Wasps or Bordeaux-Begles, who meet at Adams Park on Sunday.

This is match that proves rugby can attract the kind of celebrities normally associated with football.

French actor GErard Depardieu is vice-president of Bordeaux and performed the ceremonial kick-off for the club's opening championship match with Stade earlier in the season. …

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