Bok Cassiem's Bayonne 'all up for' Stade Francais challenge

Bok Cassiem's Bayonne 'all up for' Stade Francais challenge

South Africa back-rower Uzair Cassiem said his Bayonne side are prepared for a "big challenge" as they defend their unbeaten home record against in-form Stade Francais in the French Top 14 on Saturday.

Bayonne's South African back row Uzair Cassiem

The Parisians, 14-time champions, have  lost just once in their last six league games and are eight points behind leaders Toulouse.

"They're not second in the table for nothing, they're doing something good and something's happening up there," Cassiem told AFP on Thursday.

"It's going to be a big challenge for us, at set-piece and kicking.

"We're all up for that," he added.

Cassiem, 32, moved to the Atlantic coast in 2021 after three seasons with Welsh side the Scarlets.

Some of his former team-mates at Parc y Scarlets are considering striking in response to a freeze on new contracts as the four Welsh regions and the Welsh Rugby Union wrestle over a new financial agreement.

"As rugby players, we only have careers for so long. We want to make the best of it," Cassiem said.

"You don't want this unnecessary situation and issues that aren't even your fault.

"I stand by what the boys want to do there," he added.

Former Cheetahs loose forward Cassiem, won the last of his eight South Africa caps in December 2018 but holds an ambition to wear the Green and Gold jersey once again.

"The dream will also be there but that's out of my hands," he said.

"I'm at the stage of my career where I just want to enjoy every moment.

"In a blink of an eye it can be finished, gone, you hang up your boots.

"I want to do the best for Bayonne," he added.

- 'Immense talent' -

This weekend Cassiem's Basque outfit, promoted from the second-tier in June, will aim to maintain their unbeaten run at home in the league which stretches back to January 2022.

They sit sixth in the table partly down to the form of ex-France fly-half Camille Lopez, Cassiem and 87kg Fiji centre Sireli Maqala, who has scored three tries in 13 appearances this term.

"People mis-judge his natural build without seeing his ability," Cassiem said.

"He has immense talent but he's small in stature.

"That's why he often surprises people with what he can do.

"He's been amazing for us this year and hopefully he can continue this week," Cassiem added.

Elsewhere, in the shadow of next week's Six Nations third round, Scotland fly-half Finn Russell is likely to feature as Racing 92 host Brive and France centre Jonathan Danty could return from injury for La Rochelle as they head to Castres in a welcome boost for Les Bleus head coach Fabien Galthie.

Cassiem's fellow Springbok Cheslin Kolbe takes on former side Toulouse for Toulon. The blockbuster game has been moved up the coast from Toulon to Marseille's 67,000-capacity football stadium, Stade Velodrome.

Fixtures (all times GMT)


Bayonne v Stade Francais (1400), Racing 92 v Brive, Lyon v Montpellier, Perpignan v Pau, Castres v La Rochelle (all 1600), Toulon v Toulouse (2005)


Bordeaux-Begles v Clermont (2005)


Listen to the latest Jacaranda FM sports bulletin

Show's Stories