Stade players set to strike over merger with Racing

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A planned merger between Parisian powerhouses Stade Francais and Racing 92 has sent shockwaves through French rugby, with the head of the national players' union calling it "disgusting" and promising to help fight it. Players and fans alike reacted with anger when the surprise announcement was made on Monday, triggering speculation in French media of a possible strike in the Top 14 league at the weekend.

"It's hard to swallow", said Danty, 24, the Stade Francais centre who is training with the French team for the Six Nations match against Wales in Paris on Saturday.

Between them they have won the two most recent Top 14 titles.

'The LNR calls for dialogue and will pay close attention to this unprecedented dossier in the world of professional rugby and intends to ensure the interests of all stakeholders, in particular players, coaches and co-workers of both clubs'.

Remarkably, the Stade players and staff were not consulted on the decision, and the first they heard of it came via the club's public statement.

"This merger, effective from next season, must give birth to a new club that will preserve the roots of Racing 92 and those of the Stade Français Paris, while increasing the resources available to serve youth and French rugby".

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A number of players are likely to lose their jobs as the squad size will have to be reduced.

From an Irish perspective, there could be ramifications for Ronan O'Gara, who now operates as the defence and individual skills coach at Racing.

The players met yesterday evening, and per Pascal Pape, they voted 99.8% in favour of going on strike.

It has previously been revealed that the 40-year-old's future at the club could be in doubt following the news that current Racing flanker Chris Masoe is set to join the coaching ranks at the club, potentially taking over as skills coach and also having input into defensive strategy.

French rugby was stunned by the move to unite two of the biggest clubs in the game from next season.

"Consolidated by its twin culture, the fierce determination of its two presidents and its increased audience in a population pool unrivaled in France, this new club has a long-term goal to build a true giant day after day".

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