Marconnet ends stay with Stade in Top14

Veteran French international prop Sylvain Marconnet brought an end to his successful 12 year stay at French rugby giants Stade Francais on Tuesday unhappy with the direction the club had taken.

The 35-year-old – capped 80 times – was released from his contract a year early and is likely to join another Top 14 side, Bayonne – who were fortunate not to be relegated last season after Montauban went down instead because of financial problems – or European Cup finalists Biarritz.

Marconnet – who won five French titles and appeared in two European Cup finals since joining from Grenoble in 1997 – had grown steadily unhappier as the past season lurched from one crisis to another.

Stade eventually finished in their lowest ever position of eighth and failing to qualify for next season’s European Cup.

Marconnet said that the removal of close friend and former clubmate and fellow international Christophe Dominici earlier in the season as backs coach had hit him especially hard.

“It (leaving Stade) has been swirling round my head for a long time,” said Marconnet.

“I could have announced this before the last Top 14 match of the season but I have never liked goodbyes.

“A new coach (Michael Cheika) is due to arrive and the club will go in another direction.

“The departure of Christophe Dominici during the season hit me very hard personally.

“Two years ago I rejected approaches from Bayonne because Christophe was taking on coaching duties.

“His leaving played a large part in my decision as did the departure of Matthieu Blin.”

Marconnet added that another reason for terminating his contract early was to try and seal a place in next year’s World Cup finals squad – he missed the 2007 edition because he had failed to recover full fitness after suffering leg injuries in a family skiing accident.

“With a year to go to the World Cup (in New Zealand) I want a new challenge at club level so I give myself every chance of playing in the tournament which remains one of the last ambitions of my career.

“It is clear that soon I will sign for another Top 14 club and that will allow me to have a shot at attaining this ambition, the World Cup, and to prepare for it under the best conditions.”

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