Top 14. Stade Français surprise: 7 strong men who have achieved great success this season

Jeremy Ward, Giorgi Melikidze and Romain Briatte are among Stade Français’ 7 strong men in this Top 14. (©Icon Sports)

No big stars, emerging players, a group built despite the turmoil at the start of the season: this is a magical recipe. France stadium This year. Rugby news selected 7 key players in the squad and asked their coaches Laurent Sempéré and Julien Arias to tell us about them.

Romain Briatte (3e line, 12 Top 14 matches this season, 2 tries)

Laurent Sempéré: “His touch is his main quality as a player. He is precious. In the game, he can do anything. He doesn’t have any superpowers, but he does everything very well. There are 16/20 everywhere. And he is very consistent in his level of performance, remarkable. It also relates to his approach to rugby: he is serious, organized and often repeats the same processes. His leadership role is becoming more and more important.

The coach of the Parisian forwards continues: “His performances and natural leadership make him listen. In the absence of Paul Gabrillagues, his appointment as captain was obvious. Even if he is not the captain, he is very important in the decisions of the team.

Third center line Giovanni Habel-Kuffner showed off his pink hair color against Racing 92.
Third centre-back Giovanni Habel-Kuffner has been one of Stade Français’ very good off-season recruits. (©Icon Sports)

Giovanni Habel-Kuffner (3e line, 14 best 14 games this season, 3 tries)

Laurent Sempéré emphasizes the importance of recruiting the former Palua: “It was an important need because we didn’t have a specialist number 8 and we were short on manpower. When we had the opportunity to bring him in, we jumped at him. He is a great ball carrier and a very talented rugby player. He has a feel for the game, can adapt to all situations and plays around well. We needed a player who could link between the forwards and three-quarters, who could improve the ball around the scrum, but also play day-to-day, sometimes at center three-quarters, who could step forward when available. there is no excess.

Giovanni is also a strong player. He is a real New Zealand player and it has scope. He can play in all situations and has that quality in contact with players from the Pacific. He is a mix of different cultures and it can be seen in his playing.

Laurent SemperStade Français forwards coach, Giovanni Habel-Kufner
Sekou Macalou scores his second try for Stade Français against La Rochelle on Matchday 12 of the Top 14.
Sekou Macalou has “superpowers”, according to Stade Français forwards coach Laurent Sempéré. (©Icon Sports)

Sekou Macaulou (3e line, age 27, 4 tries in Top 14)

Laurent Sempéré praises the French national team (11 games):

Sekou is somewhat the antithesis of Romain (Briatte). He has super powers, exceptional speed, extraordinary strength. He is used to working with this group, this club, he brings comfort. The players around him know this. He can make the difference at any time. He is a standout player.

Laurent SemperStade Français forward coach, Sekou Macalou

The technician continues: “We often find it makes a difference on the 15m lane because we use it a lot in those situations. But in more closed matches, he can also come in and make breaks in the middle of the field, or get out of defensive situations thanks to his speed. Wherever he is, he makes a difference. But his qualities also have flaws: sometimes we wish he could do more, he helps us so much when he uses all his capabilities.

In the absence of Paul Alo-Emil, Giorgi Melikidze showed his great qualities in the club for some time, especially in the indoor fight.
In the absence of Paul Alo-Emil, Giorgi Melikidze showed his great qualities in the club for some time, especially in the indoor fight. (©Icon Sports)

Giorgi Melikidze (15 best 14 games this season, 3 tries)

The coach of the attackers wants to remember that the Georgian is not new to the team: “He has been in the club for a long time, he arrived before 2015, he is a veteran! He came very young. Originally coming from a remote village in Georgia, it was a culture shock for him. He has a work culture, he is a sponge, he only wants progress. It’s really been two years that he’s been able to use his full potential. He works harder than others, he is very demanding. I am happy that there is a feeling that allows me to work well with him.”

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He has great natural strength, doesn’t ask too many questions and listens. He has made a name for himself and is not easy on the right side of the scrum! Paul Alo-Emile was out for half the season, which created an opportunity for Giorgi and he is doing very well.

Laurent SemperAbout Giorgi Melikidze, coach of the Parisian forwards
It's the end of the season for Joris Segonds, who suffered a jaw injury
Joris Segunds is more than just a kicker. “He likes to attack,” assures Julien Arias. (©Icon Sports)

Joris Segonds (opener, 12 best 14 games this season)

Places in 3/4 after strikers. Coach Julien Arias starts with Joris Segonds: “He’s a very good goalscorer, he has very good footwork, he’s an important weapon in the Top 14 today. But Joris is a bit of a highlight, he has other strengths. He is a player who likes gaps and attack, even if there is still a lot of progress at this level. We’re building on his strengths, kicking and game management, and working on his other weapons like attack animation.

The Paris backs coach continues: “He is in a very positive phase of his career and is starting to pick up a lot of things. He has been at the Stade Français for 4 seasons and is increasingly involved in leadership, strategy and game planning. And the hinge has 2 opening halves (Segonds and Barré) and 3 fighting halves (Parra, Hall, Coville). who works hard to develop the team. In all positions, the less talked about are also very important.

Center Jeremy Ward is getting stronger with each appearance with Stade Français.
Center Jeremy Ward is getting stronger with each appearance with Stade Français.

Jeremy Ward (Centre, 11 best 14 games this season, 2 tries)

“When we hired him, we knew his qualities would be true to the game we wanted to play this season. Experienced at the highest level, he is a great defensive player. We also knew he had a lot of untapped offensive potential. Little by little, he understands what we want in our game system and advances in the attacking game. We are satisfied with his performance,” Arias analyzed.

We have fully confirmed our choice to hire him. The goal is not to recognize the players. We were not wrong about both the player and his man. He is a very popular personality.

Julien AriasJérémy Ward is the coach of Stade Français’ 3/4 team
Julien Delbouis (right) has just signed an extension at the Stade Français, while Joris Segonds (centre) has announced he will stay in Paris until 2024.
Along with other strong players like Julien Delbouis (right), Sekou Macalou and Joris Segonds. (©Icon Sports)

Julien Delbouis (Center, 12 best 14 games this season)

“I played with it before using it (in 2018)! It was four years ago. He came here at the age of 19. He could not continue due to his injuries. He fought with the poor for 2 years. But he has a great mentality and has given himself the opportunity to come back. He started the season slowly, then his level came back in the matches. He regained confidence in his physical potential and wins many offensive duels.”

Julien Arias says of Delbouis: “He has slowly managed to leave behind the continuity that he did less before. In recent weeks he has returned to a very high level and is a huge player when he is on top form.”


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