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Stade Francais v Ulster Game Rearranged

Stade Francais v Ulster Game Rearranged

The postponed Heineken Cup Pool 4 clash between Stade Francais and Ulster, scheduled to have taken place in Brussels today, has been rearranged for tomorrow (Sunday) at Stade Jean Bouin in Paris.

The revised match details are:

Stade Francais v Ulster
Date: Sunday, 20 December
Venue: Stade Jean Bouin, Paris
Kick-off: 3pm local time/2pm Irish time

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Stade Francais have confirmed that tickets and accreditation for today’s game will be valid at Stade Jean Bouin tomorrow (Sunday). There will be no public sale of tickets on the day.

The postponement of the Heineken Cup Pool 4 match had wide-ranging implications, not least that the two teams were told they would have to up sticks and travel to a different venue to complete the fixture.

The choice of the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels was another ground-breaking marketing decision made by Stade President Max Gauzzini and it was all set to become the biggest ever rugby day in the history of the game in Belgium.

But, in the end, the ice and snow, not to mention temperatures of -11 degrees, conspired to turn the dream into a logistical, and potentially financial, disaster.

Belgium was set to become the 10th country to host a Heineken Cup match, and the stadium was scheduled to become the 83rd venue used, but the frozen conditions simply made any chance of playing impossible.

English referee Chris White finally put everyone out of their misery with his final inspection at 2pm local time and set ERC Chief Executive Derek McGrath and Gauzzini the task of trying to find a suitable venue at which to stage the game within the next few days.

McGrath said: “We need to play the match before the next round and, once the decision was taken to postpone this game, we opened discussions with other venues to try to find somewhere to play the game.”

Ulster’s problems, which began with lengthy airport delays on their outward flight on Friday night, were compounded by the uncertainty of where and when the game would eventually be played.

It left former skipper, and now Operations Director, David Humphreys struggling to find ways to keep the players focused on the task ahead.

“This is the biggest match Ulster have played in a long, long time. We haven’t put ourselves in a position to compete for a quarter-final place in the Heineken Cup in recent seasons,” he said.

“On the back of our victory over Stade at Ravenhill last weekend, all the players realised the magnitude of the return game and last week merely whetted the appetite.

“We came to Brussels fully understanding we would still be firm underdogs, given Stade’s position as one of Europe’s top teams, but really looking forward to the contest.

“In the end, it turned into a difficult morning and a disappointing afternoon. Now it is a case of giving the players a new target on which to focus.

“All rugby players want is certainty and that is what we are trying to give them. They want to know where and when they will be playing so they can go through their mental and physical build-ups once again.”

With a massive Magners League derby clash with Leinster at the RDS to come at the end of next week, Ulster were pleased to get a Sunday date for the refixed game.