Stade Francais coach Quesada 'proud' of rugby players over strike

Supporters and Stade Francais players demonstrate on March 13, 2017 at the Stade Jean Bouin in Paris after French rugby giants Racing 92 and Stade Francais announced a shock merger

Stade Francais coach Gonzalo Quesada praised his players over their recent strike but insisted on Friday it is now time to channel that unity and energy towards Top 14 survival.

Stade's players downed tools 10 days ago, just 24 hours after club bosses had announced a planned merger with Parisian rivals Racing 92.

The two clubs' presidents backed down a few days later but not before last weekend's fixtures between Stade and Castres, and Racing against Montpellier had been postponed.

With the merger called off, the players went back to work on Monday

"I told them that they could be proud of their unity," beamed Stade head coach Quesada at Friday's press conference ahead of Sunday's clash with Toulon.

"But now they need to do what's necessary this time to save the club on the field."

Champions less than two years ago, Stade are 12th in the 14-team French top flight, just 11 points ahead of the relegation zone.

With club president Thomas Savare looking for a buyer and having expressed his desire to leave at the end of the season, Stade are desperate to ensure they remain in the Top 14 beyond June.

"Whatever happens, there will be no future for Stade Francais if we drop into the Pro D2 (second division)," added Argentine Quesada.

"(There would be) no buyer. So we can't let the uncertainty over the future distract us from concentrating on delivering on the pitch."