French clubs Racing 92 and Stade Francais shocked the world of rugby this week when they announced plans to merge later this year.
Respective club owners Jacky Lorenzetti and Thomas Savare made the stunning announcement on Monday morning, but the plan has gone down particularly badly with the Stade players, who are firmly of the belief that the merger would heavily favour Racing.
Indeed, there was further anger when it came to light that the merger between the two Paris rivals had been in the pipeline for moths, with players (as well as the French Rugby Federation and Paris government) kept in the dark throughout.
Stade France players have since announced indefinite strike action, led by vice-captain Pascal Pape in the absence of captain Sergio Parisse.
That said, anybody unclear as to Parisse’s feelings on the matter were given a definitive answer on Wednesday night as the Italian international, on Six Nations duty currently, took to Twitter to offer a message of defiance and solidarity:
— sergio parisse (@sergioparisse) March 15, 2017
Translation: “As captain of Stade Francais, I learned of the death of my club by … Twitter! We will not let go … I assure you #ourclub.”
It was a brief, but at the same time very informative, statement by the number eight. Parisse revealed that he first heard of the merger through social media, a worse way to hear the news than even the players still at the club this week who found out in person on Monday morning.
He also seems to throw his weight fully behind the strike action this week with the Top 14 clash with Castres this weekend now highly unlikely to go ahead as planned.
Parisse will finish out Italy’s Six Nations campaign against Scotland this weekend, but even the 33-year-old himself must be unsure as to what sort of environment he will be walking back into when he returns to his club next week.