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Match preview: Tigers versus Stade Francais

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"It's a big night for everyone," says Tigers boss Richard Cockerill as Welford Road prepares to host the opening match of this season's European Rugby Champions Cup on Friday.

Leicester Tigers host Stade Francais Paris in Pool 4 in the first action of this season’s European tournament. Kick-off is at 7.45pm and tickets are available now.

Tigers started the season with three consecutive wins in the Aviva Premiership but will be looking to bounce back from defeat at Exeter Chiefs last weekend, while French champions Stade made a slow start with players away on World Cup duties before a good win over Clermont Auvergne last Sunday.

“This is big night, at home in the opening game of the tournament against a very good away side, with a string of tough games to come too, so we have to get it right,” said Tigers director of rugby Cockerill ahead of the club’s 19th season in European competition.
“Stade are a quality side and clearly they have big-game players – we saw that last year when they came through the play-off strongly to win the French Top 14 title. They had a very good win against Clermont last week and with getting players back in from the World Cup they’ll be building confidence.
“We have to make sure we’re in the battle, physically and emotionally. We’ve got some bodies back, we’ve got some strength in depth and good competition for places. There’s a good vibe in the squad despite ending our winning run last week. We know where we have to improve.”

Stade include Italy captain Sergio Parisse, France internationals Pascal Pape, Jules Plisson and Rabah Slimani, plus South Africa back row Willem Alberts, Australia’s World Cup Final scrum-half Will Genia and former Tigers favourite Julien Dupuy in their 40-man European Cup squad.

Tigers are able to call on Argentina prop Marcos Ayerza, back to fitness after ending his World Cup on the eve of the Bronze Medal match, with fellow internationals Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Tom Croft, Ben Youngs, Vereniki Goneva, Peter Betham and Mathew Tait all looking towards a big European night at Welford Road.

Team news from both camps is announced on the club website and social media pages at noon on Thursday.
Tigers and Stade Francais have met on eight previous occasions in Europe, including the epic 2001 Final in Paris, with four wins each. Their last encounter was in a quarter-final in 2006/07, when Tigers won with a late try from Tom Varndell. Click here to re-live that nailbiting contest.

For a full matchday guide, with details of what’s in store at Welford Road this Friday, click here.

Fixtures in the pool stages of the Champions Cup are included in Tigers season tickets.

For all other supporters, match tickets are available now.

Book in person at the Tigers ticket office, phone 0116 319 8888 (option 2) or click here to book online. A print at home function is available on online purchases or there is a Collection Point outside the ticket office on matchday. The office is open to callers 9am-5pm Thursday and from 9am Friday up to kick-off, or phone from 8.30am on both days.