- Racing Métro 92 Paris
teamname = Racing Métro 92 Paris
imagesize = 75px
founded = 2001
Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir
capacity = 6,500
president = flagicon|France
coach = flagicon|France
Philippe Benettonand flagicon|France Pierre Berbizier
league = Pro D2
season = 2007-08
position = 2nd
Racing Métro 92 Paris is a French
rugby unionclub that was formed in 2001 with the collaboration of the Racing Club de Franceand US Métro. "92" is the number of Hauts-de-Seine, the départementof Île-de-France, bordering Paris to the west, where they play, and whose council gives financial backing to the club. They currently compete in the second division of French rugby, Rugby Pro D2, and play out of the Stade Yves-du-Manoir stadium at Colombes, where France played for several decades.
Racing Club was established in 1882 (it became Racing Club de France in 1885) as an athletics club, one of the first in France. New sections were regularly added thereafter (17 as of 2006, accounting for some 20,000 members). A rugby section was founded in 1890, which became an immediate protagonist of the early French championship, to which until 1898 only Parisian teams were invited. On March 20 1892 the USFSA organised the first ever French rugby championship, a one off game between Racing and
Stade Français. The game was refereed by Pierre de Coubertinand saw Racing win 4-3 cite web | publisher=lnr.fr | title=R.C. France 4 - Stade Francais 3 | url=http://www.lnr.fr/Client/Menus.asp?CR=16354&CSR=16382&Cle=51797| accessdaymonth=2 November | accessyear=2006] . Racing were awarded the Bouclier de Brennus, which is still awarded to the winners of the French championship today.
Both clubs would contest the championship game the following season as well, though in 1893 it would be Stade Français who would win the event, defeating the Racing Club 7–3. Stade went onto dominate the following years and the Racing Club would make their next final appearance in the 1898 season, where they met Stade yet again. However the title was awarded after a round-robin with six clubs. Stade Français won with 10 points, Racing came in second with 6.
Racing contested the 1900 season final against the
Stade Bordelaisclub, as provincial clubs had been allowed to compete in 1899. Racing easily won the match, defeating Stade Bordelais 37–7. The two clubs would meet again in the 1902 championship game, where Racing would again win, 6–0. A decade passed until Racing Club made another championship final, which would be on 31 March 1912, where they would play Toulouse in Toulouse. They lost the match 8–6.
World War Ithe French championship was replaced with a competition called the Coupe de l'Espérance. The Racing Club won the competition in 1918, defeating FC Grenoble22 points to 9. Normal competition resumed for the 1920 season. That season the Racing Club made their first final since 1912, though they lost 8 to 3 to Stadoceste Tarbais, a club from the Pyrénées.
After the 1920 season, the Racing Club would not win any championships for a number of years. In 1931 they created the
Challenge Yves du Manoircompetition. In the 1950s the club had some success, making their first championship final in 30 years, losing to Castres Olympique, 11 points to 8, becoming runners-up in the Challenge Yves du Manoir and winning the Challenge Rutherford in the 1952 season. After losing the 1957 final to FC Lourdes, the club then won the championship in the 1959 season, defeating Mont-de-Marsan 8 points to 3.
The Racing Club would next play in the championship final in the 1987 season, where they met Toulon at
Parc des Princesin Paris. Toulon won the match 15 points to 12. Three seasons later the Racing Club defeated Agen 22 to 12 in Paris, capturing their first title since the 1959 season.
But in the wake of the 1990 title, Racing Club had a hard time adapting to the professional era and started to decline, until they were relegated to Division 2 at the end of the 1995-96 season. They jumped back to the top tier in 1998 but went down again in 2000 and have been playing in Division 2 ever since. In 2001 the rugby section split off from the general sports club to merge with the rugby section of
US Métro, the Paris public transport sports club, to form the current professional concern, known as Racing Métro 92. Both Racing Club de France and US Métro retained their other amateur general sports sections.
Racing Métro 92’s president is Jacky Lorenzetti, who heads a giant real estate company called Foncia. The board intends to bring the club into the
Top 14within the next two years and into the H Cup by 2011. Racing Club’s main problem is one encountered by all sports clubs in Paris: attendances are extremely low (barely 1,000 for regular season matches). In addition, when Racing Club started to decline in the 1990s, the place as Paris' #1 rugby club was taken by its arch-rival of the late 19th century, Stade Français, which needed ten years to build a faithful fan base enabling it to compete at the top. Therefore many are skeptical as to the eventual success of Racing Club which might well become an artificial institution in an “empty shell”. It seems strange that such a big city as Paris could not accommodate more than one rugby club, when London has four in England's top division alone.
After 2003 the Challenge Yves du Manoir has been taken over by Racing Club as a youth competition for under 15s clubs. Racing Club de France provided 76 players to the national team, including 12 captains. It is second only to
Stade Toulousain(almost 100) in that category. Three "Racingmen" played in France’s first international match against the All Blackson Jan. 1, 1906. Laurent Cabannes, a France flanker, also played for Harlequins.
In France, early organised sports was a matter for rich people. Racing Club became the epitome of the exclusive athletics club, located in the heart of the
Bois de Boulognein the affluent western district of Paris. As the club's name, Racing, indicates, it was modelled after the fashionable English sports organisationsFact|date=August 2008, whose ideal of " mens sana in corpore sano" ("a healthy mind in a healthy body") appealed very much to its members. Many of them were actually aristocrats, and four nobles took part in the first championship final. Although less aristocrats belong to the club now, it is still very complicated to join it, and the identity and image is one of exclusivity.
Racing Club has also always defended the amateur spirit of the game and of sports in general. The creation of the
Challenge Yves du Manoirresponded to this ideal in a period (late 1920s-early 1930s) where French rugby was marred by violence and creeping professionalism. Yves du Manoirsymbolized the romantic side of rugby, its carefree dimension, "le jeu pour le jeu" ("playing for the fun of playing").
In a very different vein, much later, in the 1980s, a talented generation of players revived the club’s spirit. They carried it back the top of French rugby thanks to their performances on the pitch, but they also wanted to bring the fun back into the game, in order to take rugby out of its Parisian anonymity. They did so through a combination of serious football, humour and self-mockery. Their famous antics were invented by the club’s backs (including France flyhalf Franck Mesnel and France wing Jean-Baptiste Lafond) who once played a game in
Bayonnewith beretson their heads as a tribute to the tradition of attacking play of the Basque club Aviron Bayonnais(Jan 11, 1987). As members of a gang which they called "le show bizz", they played other matches with black make-up on (April 10, 1988 at Stade Toulousain), hair dyed yellow, bald caps (Feb 26, 1989 against Béziers), wigs and even dressed up as peloteplayers (white shirts, black jackets and berets, again) in March 1990 at Biarritz Olympique. In April 1989, they wore long red and white striped shorts to celebrate the sans-culottewho took the Bastilleon July 14, 1789. They wore long white trousers to look like players of old in the French championship semi-final on April 26, 1987—and won. Their best prank was in the next game though: they played the 1987 final against RC Toulonwith a pink bow tie (May 2). Just before kick-off, Lafond presented French president François Mitterrand, who always attended the national final, with one of those bow ties. They lost that match but went on to play the 1990 final with the same bow ties. At half-time, they had a drink of champagne on the pitch to recover from the efforts of the first half—and won the club’s most recent title!
They were also famous for their love of nightlife, which attracted a lot of criticism, especially because so many of them had international duties with France. All this contributed to the image of Racing Club as an eccentric institution, but these players have also been seen as trail blazers for
Stade Français’s president Max Guazzini, who a few years later, took up the provocative (such as the use of the pink colour) and imaginative spirit to boost his club’s image and shake off the conservative traditionalism of French rugby.
As the club hit the front pages, five players capitalised on the success and went on to start a now famous sportswear clothing business called Eden Park (after the famous Auckland stadium) in late 1987. It uses a pink bowtie as its logo and has established itself as a leading brand in France thanks to its combination of elegance and eccentricity (pink, of course, and sky-blue are among the favourites), competing with the likes of
Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren Lacosteand Marlboro Classics. Thus Eden Park’s expensive rugby polo shirts are a must for French rugby fans. Their development was boosted when the French Federation chose them as official suppliers of France’s formal wear in 1998. The company boasts 270 outlets throughout the world. One of them is in Richmond as Eden Park developed a partnership with Harlequin FC. Others are to be found in Northampton, Leeds, Belfast, Dublinand Cardiff. In 2003, Eden Park became the official supplier of the Welsh Rugby Union’s formal wear for the World Cup in Australia. Eden Park is also directly involved in the Racing Métro club since one of its founders, Eric Blanc—who happens to be Franck Mesnel’s brother-in-law— is the club’s vice-president.
This particular period ended in the early 1990s when those players left the club, and Racing now plays in the Second Division, but retains plenty of ambition.
* French championship
** Champion: 1892, 1900, 1902, 1959, 1990
** Finalist: 1893, 1912, 1920, 1950, 1957, 1987
Challenge Yves du Manoir
** Finalist: 1952
** Champion under 15: 2005
Coupe de l'Espérance
** Champion : 1918
* Division One Group A2
** Champion: 1998
* Challenge Rutherford
** Finalist: 1952
Pro D2 promotion playoffs
* [http://www.racing-metro92.com/ Official site]
* [http://www.racingclubdefrance.org/ Racing Club de France (sports club)]
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