Meyer-Steyn combo reunite as Stade thump Perpignan

Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)
Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)

Paris - Stade Francais kicked off the Top 14 season and their new era under coach Heyneke Meyer with a 45-16 thrashing of newly-promoted Perpignan on Saturday.

The 50-year-old Meyer, who led his native South Africa to the 2015 Rugby World Cup semi-finals, saw his men run six tries past Perpignan at the Stade Aime Giral.

Stade struggled badly last season, finishing down in 12th place and only avoiding relegation on the final day of the campaign, but, financed by Swiss billionaire Hans-Peter Wild, they have the biggest budget in the French top flight.

The capital-city side raced into a 29-3 half-time lead as they laid down a marker to their title rivals at the earliest opportunity.

"It's a great win and we're savouring it," said Stade forwards coach Pieter de Villiers.

"We're especially happy for the players who worked hard during the off-season, we insisted on physical preparation to be ready and today it paid off.

"Yes, we have high ambitions. Our owner gives us the means for those ambitions. But our first ambition is to establish a winning culture."

France flank Sekou Macalou and fullback Kylan Hamdaoui both scored two tries for the visitors, with Fijian international Waisea Nayacalevu and scrumhalf Piet van Zyl also touching down.

Former Springbok flyhalf Morne Steyn kicked 16 points as Stade sealed a comfortable bonus-point victory.

There will be easier days for Perpignan, for whom former Ireland pivot Paddy Jackson scored a try and a penalty on his debut, with their other points coming from a penalty try.

The big game of the opening weekend is on Sunday, as reigning champions Castres launch their title defence against Montpellier in a repeat of May's final.

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