A NASTY spitting incident spoiled a match in which Stade Francais ended English involvement in the Amlin Challenge Cup with an impressive 36-20 victory at Bath.
Waisea Vuidravuwalu scored two of Stade’s four tries, and helped lay on the other two for full-back Hugo Bonneval, with fly-half Jules Plisson, Fillol and replacement Jerome Porical all contributing points through the boot.
Bath secured a penalty try and consolation scores from replacements Michael Claassens and Jack Cuthbert, while Stephen Donald kicked five points, but the home side were outclassed.
However, the blot on Stade’s performance came in the form of a first-half incident between the two No.9s. The two had already exchanged words once, but then clashed again before a 25th-minute scrum. Nothing untoward was seen by referee Nigel Owens and his assistants at the time, but replays of the incident show scrum-half Jerome Fillol spitting straight in Peter Stringer’s face.
Speaking after the game, former Ireland scrum-half Stringer said: “Obviously it is a bit raw at the moment, but it happened on the pitch and there is no place in the game for it. That’s as low as you can probably go. When you are on the end of something like that you are rattled by it, but try not to dwell on it. It’s out of my hands now.”
Bath first-team coach Toby Booth said he had not seen the incident, but added: “Peter is pretty angry, I have not had time to speak with him but I would be pretty disappointed – as I am sure everyone would be – if that is proved to be true.”
Fillol is almost certain to be cited, given the damning nature of the video footage, and could face a lengthy ban.
The furore over Fillol’s actions overshadowed a superb Stade display as the French club reached the last four of this tournament for the third year running.
In addition to Vuidravuwalu, there was another Herculean display by captain Sergio Parisse to marvel at, while Bonneval was a classy presence throughout as Stade advanced to a semi-final meeting with Perpignan.
Booth admitted his side had been second best by some distance.
“It was very disappointing, it was a big game and a big occasion for us and it did not go as we would have liked,” he said.