The proposed merger between Stade Francais and Racing 92 has been cancelled, the Racing club president has announced.
It emerged during the week that a partnership between the two Top 14 clubs was due to be implemented ahead of next season, an unexpected decision that sparked a divisive reaction.
It particularly caused ire among the Stade Francais contingent, due to fears that the merger would favour Racing. The players voted to take unlimited strike action in protest.
Top 14 games including both clubs that were down for decision this weekend were postponed as a result of the controversy.
And today, Racing club president Jacky Lorenzetti announced that the merger was off.
Racing 92 president Jacky Lorenzetti says that merger with Stade Français is off. Fans, players and coaches to pick up the pieces...
— Alex Shaw (@alexshawsport) March 19, 2017
A statement on the club website reads:
"I decided to give up this beautiful project. I sincerely believe that it was ambitious enough to garner the approval of the majority.
"I felt that the advantages he offered to the Ile-de-France rugby would outweigh the inevitable efforts he would imply.
"Necessary efforts on both sides, two strong cultures, two marvelous stories, it was necessary to write the sequel not to the first person of the singular, but to the first person of the plural. I have heard and understood the strong reservations raised by this beautiful plan of union.
"In any case, social, political, cultural, human and sporting conditions are not fulfilled. Perhaps we were right too soon, the future will tell us ... I have not measured how much the need to explain, To share my vision and to present the modalities to the ranks of the Racing 92 was a top priority.
"I did not expect such resistance, especially internally! I would like to thank the players Ciel and Blanc for defending their convictions, courage, generosity and solidarity. Especially with a great sense of responsibility. I am proud of them, of all of them.
"Only my passion, my enthusiasm, the desire to be useful to rugby and beyond to the French sport have guided me. Rugby is a milieu of passions. It is our honor to have convictions and defend them. But the time is too short. It is not possible then that a season is played to lead a dialogue and overcome tensions.
"I want to tell the big rugby family, the loyal partners of Racing 92, the supporters, the players, the sports and administrative staff of the two teams and the volunteers of the rugby schools that it was not in my Intention to oppose one part of the family to another.
"This family is the beating heart of our sport. As for me, I am only a passionate servant."