RUGBY UNION: Exiles can't wait to face French opposition

London Welsh prop Frank Montanella will be facing former club today

London Welsh prop Frank Montanella will be facing former club today

First published in Sport Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter specialising in Rugby, Cricket and Athletics. Call me on 01865 425456

Lyn Jones says London Welsh cannot wait for today’s “historic” clash with Stade Francais at the Kassam Stadium.

The Exiles host French giants Stade in their opening Amlin Challenge Cup fixture – kick-off 3pm – which is the first European rugby match in Oxford since the 2005 final.

And head coach Jones said Welsh’s debut in the competition will bring home how far they have come in the past year.

“We are absolutely delighted to be in this competition,” said Jones.

“Saturday is a historic day for London Welsh. It is our first European fixture, so we are keen to do well.

“We also understand how good Stade Francais are. They are a very, very strong side and it will be a huge challenge for us to be competitive.

“They play an attacking brand of rugby and I am sure it will be an exciting game.

“Both sides will be extremely positive and there is nothing to lose.”

Stade are renowned for their pink kit and are one of the best known teams in French rugby.

They are very much an international club, with players such as Argentina’s Felipe Contepomi in their ranks alongside ex-Oxford Blue Anton Van Zyl.

Italy’s Sergio Parisse, arguably the world’s top No 8, is missing from their squad today along with ex-England winger Paul Sackey.

Jones said facing them was a very attractive prospect for his squad – especially props Franck Montanella and Arthur Joly, who will be playing against their former club.

“The players are absolutely delighted to be here,” said Jones.

“They want top be playing at the highest level possible against some of the best players in world rugby.

“It is going to be a great day.

“These matches bring excitement to the players and bring the best out of them. “It promises to be a great occasion.”

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