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Will Carpenter


Posted Friday, December 13th 2019

Preview: Stade Français (a) - European Challenge Cup

Bristol Bears head to Paris on Saturday to take on Stade Français in round four of the European Challenge Cup pool stages (8pm KO GMT).

Pat Lam's men scored three times in the last 15 minutes to seal a bonus point victory at Ashton Gate last weekend, and go to the Stade Jean-Bouin aiming to maintain their perfect record in the competition so far.

Here's everything you need to know ahead of the European Challenge Cup clash with Stade Français at Stade Jean-Bouin.

Match details:

  • Date: Saturday, December 14th
  • Kick-off: 8pm (GMT)
  • Competition: European Challenge Cup
  • Where: Stade Jean-Bouin
  • Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy) Assis Ref 1: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy) Assis Ref 2: Matteo Liperini (Italy) TMO: Stefano Penne (Italy)
  • Media coverage: BT Sport 2
  • Tickets: Click here to purchase tickets for Saturday's game in Paris. 

Team news

Bristol Bears travel to Paris on Saturday looking to maintain a 100% record in the competition (8pm KO GMT).

Director of Rugby Pat Lam makes eight changes to his Bristol side, who lead pool four with maximum points from three games so far.

In the backline, Mat Protheroe comes in at full back, while Toby Fricker – who has scored in every round of the Challenge Cup so far – starts on the wing.

Callum Sheedy and Nic Stirzaker form the new look half back partnership, while Academy product Will Capon and Max Lahiff return to the front row.

Ed Holmes and Joe Joyce are named in the second row and Chris Vui skippers the side from the back row.

Bristol Bears team to face Stade Francais at Stade Jean-Bouin on Saturday, December 14th (8pm KO GMT):

15. Mat Protheroe; 14. Toby Fricker, 13. Piers O’Conor, 12. Sam Bedlow, 11. Alapati Leiua; 10. Callum Sheedy, 9. Nic Stirzaker; 1. Jake Woolmore, 2. Will Capon, 3. Max Lahiff, 4. Ed Holmes, 5. Joe Joyce, 6. Chris Vui (c), 7. Jake Heenan, 8. Nathan Hughes.

Replacements: 16. Harry Thacker, 17. James Lay, 18. Nicky Thomas, 19. John Hawkins, 20. Luke Hamilton, 21. Andy Uren, 22. Ioan Lloyd, 23. Luke Morahan.

Stade Francais:

Last time out

Bristol Bears 37-11 Stade Francais | Saturday, December 7th | European Challenge Cup

Bristol Bears took full control of Pool Four with a third successive bonus-point victory in the European Challenge Cup, as Toby Fricker’s late try sealed a maximum return for Pat Lam’s men against Stade Français.

Luke Morahan’s first-half score and two penalties from the boot of Ian Madigan cancelled out Lester Etien’s 19th-minute opener, as the hosts took a five-point lead into the half time break.

Madigan added a third penalty early in the second period, before Harry Thacker, Charles Piutau and replacement Fricker touched down in the final 15 minutes to complete a resounding home win for the Bears.

Madigan, on his first competitive appearance since September, finished with a 13-point haul from five successful kicks.

Read the full report here.

Word from the camp

Nic Stirzaker expects a tough battle when Bristol Bears travel to Paris to face Stade Francais in the European Challenge Cup pool stages on Saturday (8pm KO GMT).

Lam's men are unbeaten in Pool Four with maximum points, but are under no illusions about the challenge that awaits them at Stade Jean Bouin.

Subscribe to Bristol Bears TV by clicking here.


Form guide

Bristol Bears, the only team in the European Rugby Challenge Cup with a maximum 15 points from their three games this season, will need to overturn history at Stade Francais Paris on Saturday if they are to continue that magnificent run.

Each of the clubs’ three meetings has been won by the home side – including last week’s match at Ashton Gate, where the runaway Pool 4 leaders triumphed 37-11.

Key facts:

  • Although Stade lost their last home game in the Challenge Cup, they have never lost consecutive home matches in the same European campaign.
  • Bristol top the charts for most points, tries, defenders beaten, tackles and turnovers in this season’s Challenge Cup.
  • Bristol’s Harry Thacker and Charles Piutau were Round Three leaders in tackles and carries respectively in the competition.

Bristol Bears: WDW
Stade Français: WLL


Nathan Hughes vs Charlie Francoz

Nathan Hughes has made a storming start to life at Bristol Bears, leading the charge for Pat Lam's side from the number eight shirt. The England international face off with Charlie Francoz on Saturday night.

Alapati Leiua vs Sefanaia Naivalu

After making his return from injury during last weekend's fixture, Samoan powerhouse Alapati Leiua features on wing for the clash in Paris. Leiua goes head to head with Sefanaia Naivalu in what promises to be a physical encounter.