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- European Rugby Challenge Cup
- Pool 5
- 13th Oct 2012
- KO 15:00
- Ground: Kassam Stadium
- Att: 3,748
London Welsh v Stade Francais - Amlin Challenge Cup match preview
London Welsh coach Lyn Jones has retained Gavin Henson at fly-half for Saturday's Amlin Challenge Cup opener against Stade Francais at the Kassam Stadium.
The Exiles boss has rung the changes rung the changes for the visit of the French giants following a busy period of Premiership action, but Wales international Henson will make his second start for the club at No.10.
The Pool Five encounter represents another red-letter day for the Exiles, who have already collected 10 Aviva Premiership points this season following victories over Exeter and Sale Sharks, plus two losing bonuses.
Full-back Alex Davies, who racked up an impressive haul of 250 points in the Exiles' Championship-winning season, is handed his first start of the season, as is winger Ashley Smith.
Ryan Davis will partner James Lewis in the centres while Nick Runciman replaces Tyson Keats at scrum-half.
The Exiles make three further changes in the forwards, with Arthur Joly making his first start at tighthead in place of Paulica Ion. Joly and fellow front row forward Franck Montanella will both be packing down against their former club.
Russian international Kirill Kulemin, who turns 32 on Saturday, spent eight seasons in France with Castres and Agen and comes into the second row alongside Matt Corker. Captain Jonathan Mills moves from the second row to blindside flanker in place of Daniel Browne.
London Welsh: 15 Alex Davies, 14, Ashley Smith, 13 James Lewis, 12 Ryan Davis, 11 Nick Scott, 10 Gavin Henson, 9 Nick Runciman, 8 Ed Jackson, 7 Mike Denbee, 6 Jon Mills, 5 Matt Corker, 4 Kirill Kulemin, 3 Arthur Joly, 2 Daniel George, 1 Franck Montanella.
Replacements: 16 Greg Bateman, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Paulica Ion, 19 Martin Purdy, 20 Ed Williamson, 21 Tyson Keats, 22 Simon Whatling, 23 Seb Jewell.
Stade Francais: 15 Hugo Bonneval, 14 Julien Arias, 13 Waisea Vuidarvuwalu, 12 Felipe Contepomi, 11 Francis Fainifo, 10 Jules Plisson, 9 Nicolas Bezy, 8 Pierre Rabadan, 7 Lei Tomiki, 6 Antoine Burban, 5 Anton van Zyl, 4 Juan Cruz Guillemain, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Remi Bonfils, 1 Zurabi Zhvania.
Replacements: 16 Michael Van Vuuren, 18 David Attoub, 19 Nicolas Garrault, 20 Arthur Chollon, 21 Lucas Rubio, 22 Lisandro Gomez Lopez, 23 Jérémy Sinzelle.
What they said...
London Welsh captain Jonathan Mills
"It is amazing to be playing in Europe and it is great to be coming up against such a great European team as Stade Francais.
"It will be fantastic going to places like Paris and Grenoble and Prato in Italy - quite a difference from places like Rotherham and Doncaster, where we were playing last year.
"It is a big plus for us to start with a home game, and if we can get a result then that will set us up for the rest of the pool stages.
"Winning your home games is crucial, and with just the five group winners qualifying for the quarter-finals we know we will have to pick up some points on the road."
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European Rugby Challenge Cup Table
|European Rugby Challenge Cup|
|Thursday 16th October|
|European Rugby Challenge Cup|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Brive|
|Friday 17th October|
|19:00||Bordeaux-Begles vs Edinburgh|
|Saturday 18th October|
|13:00||LOU Rugby vs London Welsh|
|14:30||Cardiff Blues vs Grenoble|
|15:00||Zebre vs Oyonnax|
|17:00||Connacht vs La Rochelle|
|19:00||Bayonne vs Exeter|
|19:45||Stade Francais vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Thursday 23rd October|
|19:45||London Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles|
|Friday 24th October|
|18:30||Grenoble vs London Irish|
|18:30||La Rochelle vs Bayonne|
|19:30||Brive vs Zebre|
|19:30||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Newcastle|
|19:45||Edinburgh vs LOU Rugby|
|Saturday 25th October|
|15:00||Exeter vs Connacht|
|19:45||Oyonnax vs Gloucester|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com