Stade Francais have being crowned the 2015 Top 14 Champions with a 12-6 victory over Clermont Auvergne in Paris.
It is a fantastic victory for the club who were in severe trouble in 2011. The club who was close to being disbanded was revived and in the last four years has now secured France's top trophy. One player who deserves the most accolades is the Parisians number eight, Italy's Sergio Parisse.
The Italian captain has shown incredible loyalty to Stade Francais. Signed for the French club in 2005 Parisse has gone through the toughest of times with the Parisian club. It is a phenomenal achievement for Stade as they have being in the shadow of the city rival Racing Metro whom have a huge backing and wealth which has seen them sign some of the world's best players.
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Catalyst for Success
Stade have secured this championship after suffering sever troubles in the last four years and Parisse has been the catalyst for the win arguably.
One must however feel a great sympathy for the runners up Clermont who have once again failed to deliver on the grandest of stages. In 2007 they suffered defeat to Stade in the final of the Top 14 and were looking to rectify the heartache which they have felt on many occasions in the last decade.
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The Clermont out-half Camille Lopez was quoted in the lead up to the game, "A club like Clermont must go looking for the title, we can’t hide,”
The game itself was a drab affair which would have being difficult for the neutral to follow. With no tries scored it was certainly not a classic however it will be a day to never forget for the Parisian club and one which Clermont will surely look to lay to rest as quickly as possible. Dubbed the "perennial bridesmaids" Clermont were on the back end of a loss to Toulon in the Champions Cup this season.
For Stade Francais and in particular Sergio Parisse it will be the sweetest of victories. the last time Parisse lifted the trophy was in 2007 for Stade. With eight barren years the Bouclier de Brennus has escaped the grasp of the Parisian side and for Parisse, who is regarded as one of the best number eights in world rugby, the feel of lifting the trophy will be exhilarating.
Parisse who captains his national side Italy is renowned for his excellent games yet with the lack of quality on the Italian side he is regularly on the losing end of most international games.
For a player to show such loyalty to his club is a breath of fresh air, when so many players are now being attracted to the big money contracts in the south of France with Toulon and with Stade's city rival Racing Metro.
Defensively Parisse is at the top of the game in tackles and offensively his carries can be devastating. He also is blessed with an excellent skill range as was evident with his behind the back pass which set up his teammate in the semi final of the Top 14 against Toulon. His leadership and quality has never been in question and like a fine wine, the Italian has certainly bettered with age.