Emirates Lions Looking For First Win Of EPCR Challenge Against Stade Francais


The Emirates Lions will be looking for their first win of the EPCR Challenge Cup as they welcome Stade Français Paris on Friday at 19h30 (SA Time).

The Parisians made a winning start to their campaign, beating Benetton Rugby 24-14, but they have less luck on the road, with only one win in their last eight away matches.

The Lions were at home last week too, drawing 31-31 against the Welsh region Dragons RFC.

Prediction: Emirates Lions by 10.

The Jaco Kriel- led Emirates Lions side faces French giants Stade Francais Paris with a team showing eleven changes to the side that drew against the Dagons RFC a week ago in Johannesburg.

Starting at lock, Springbok Willem Alberts will face his former team whom he spent over five seasons in the French capital. Alberts pairs up with Pieter Jansen van Vuren, who also makes a return to the starting XV.

Elsewhere, SA Rugby Young Player of the Year nominee for 2022 Henco van Wk, returns from suspension while Quan Horn slots into the left wing position.

Ricardo Laubscher, Emirates Lions Backline and Attack Coach and a former Assistant Coach at Stade Francais said “If you look at the Top 14 league, Stade Francias are well in the top four of the log, so we expect a very good side coming here on Friday night."

“Their kicking game is one designed to put teams under pressure, forcing one to make mistakes, so we’ll be prepared for that from a discipline point of view. Furthermore, they have a brilliant attacking game, good runners and a ten who is an outstanding goal-kicker coupled with a big boot. In saying that, we expect an exciting game from a team who can counter-attack from anywhere,” warns the former Bok assistant coach.

“Our preparations have been good this week, with most of it in wet weather as we expect similar conditions on Friday.

On Willem Alberts and Andre Warner, Ricardo Laubscher said “We are fortunate to have both Willem and Andre who have played for Stade Francais. Their input has been valuable during the week so we look forward to capitalizing on that intel,” he concluded.

Emirates Lions: 15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Edwill van der Merwe, 13. Henco Van Wyk, 12. Marius Louw, 11. Quan Horn, 10. Jordan Hendrikse, 9. Sanee Nohamba, 8. Emmanuel Tshituka, 7. Ruan Venter, 6. Jaco Kriel (c), 5. Pieter Jansen van Vuren, 4. Willem Alberts, 3. Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2. Jaco Visagie, 1. JP Smith. Replacements: 16. Michael van Vuuren, 17. Sti Sithole, 18. Ruan Smith, 19. Reinhard Nothnagel, 20. Darrian Landsberg, 21. Sangweni Sibusiso, 22. André Warner, 23. Rynhardt Jonker,

Stade Francais Paris: 15. Léo Monin, 14. Nadir Megdoud, 13. Paolo Odogwu, 12. Theo Dachary, 11. Harry Glover, 10. Léo Barre, 9. James Hall, 8. Juan Martin Scelzo, 7. Mathieu Hirigoyen, 6. Giorgi Tsutkiridze, 5. Juan Johan Van der Mescht, 4. Nathan Huguen, 3. Giorgi Melikidze, 2. Laurent Panis (c), 1. Vasil Kakovin. Replacements: 16. Lucas Peyresblanques, 17. Sergo Abramishvili, 18. Paul Alo Emile, 19. Noa Kanika, 20. Arthur Coville, 21. Alex Arrate, 22. Ferdinand Dreno, 23. Moses Alo Emile.