Stade Français


Stade Français

Rugby team
teamname = Stade Français



fullname = Stade Français Club Athlétique des Sports Généraux
location = Paris, France
country

founded = 1883
ground = Stade Jean-Bouin
capacity = 12,000cite web | publisher=planet-rugby.com | title=Top 14 preview - Stade Français | url=http://www.planet-rugby.com/Tournaments/Top_14/story_53122.shtml| accessdaymonth=2 November | accessyear=2006]
president = Max Guazzini
coach = flagicon|AUS Ewen McKenzie
league = Top 14
season = 2007-08
position = 3rd
url = www.stade.fr
pattern_la1=| pattern_b1=| pattern_ra1=| leftarm1=0066FF| body1=0066FF| rightarm1=0066FF| shorts1=FF0000| socks1=FFFFFF
pattern_la2=| pattern_b2=| pattern_ra2=| leftarm2=EE82EE| body2=EE82EE| rightarm2=EE82EE| shorts2=EE82EE| socks2=EE82EE

Stade Français CASG (usually known as Stade Français and Stade Français Paris) are a French professional rugby union club based in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. The club plays in the Top 14 domestic league in France and is one of the most successful French clubs of the modern era.

Stade Français were founded in 1883 and currently play their home matches at Stade Jean-Bouin,cite web | publisher=itsrugby.com | title=Paris | url=http://www.itsrugby.com/modules/site/team.php?menu=I&id_team=14| accessdaymonth=28 July | accessyear=2006] though they have recently played some home games at the 80,000 Stade de France, taking two matches there in both the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons and three in 2007-08. The club was founded in its current form in 1995 with the merger of the rugby sections of the Stade Français and Club Athlétique des Sports Généraux (CASG).

The club participated in the first French championship final in 1892, and went on to win numerous titles during the early 1900s. The club spent about 50 years in the lower divisions of French rugby, until entrepreneur Max Guazzini took over in 1992, overseeing a rise to prominence, which saw them return to the elite division in just five seasons, and capture four French championships in seven years.

History

Stade Français were established in 1883 by a group of students in Paris. On March 20 1892 the USFSA organised the first ever French rugby union championship, a one off game between Racing Club de France and Stade Français. The game was refereed by Pierre de Coubertin and 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] . However the club were able to make up for the loss the next season when the two teams met again in the final, with Stade Français winning 7 points to 3. The team quickly became a powerful side in the competition, featuring in every championship in succession until 1899, successful in 1894, 1895, 1897 and 1898.

From 1899 through to the 1908 season Stade Français would contest the championship final on six occasions against Bordelais, winning in 1901 and again in 1908. Stade Français also defeated SOE Toulouse in the 1903 season in Toulouse. Following a vast amount of success during the early years of the domestic league, after 1908 Stade Français would not make another final appearance until the 1927 season, when they were defeated by Toulouse 19 points to 9 in Toulouse. Stade Français would then go onto spend over fifty years in the lower divisions of French rugby.

Whilst in the third division of the French leagues, entrepreneur Max Guazzini took over the club in 1992 with the dream of bringing back top class rugby to the city of Paris. Stade Français CASG was born in 1995 through the merger of the existing Stade Français club and another Parisian side, Club Athlétique des Sports Généraux (CASG). The team returned to the top division in 1995 which coincided with the appointment of head coach Bernard Laporte. By 1998 the team had reached the championship final, and captured their first title since 1908, defeating Perpignan 34 points to 7 at Stade de France. Laporte left the club to coach the national team, he was replaced by Georges Coste who was in turn replaced by John Connolly in 2000.

Connolly took the club to their first Heineken Cup final in May 2001, where they were defeated by the Leicester Tigers 34 points to 30 at Parc des Princes.cite web | publisher=ercrugby.com| title=Heineken Cup History 2000/01 | url=http://ercrugby.com/eng/84_114.php| accessdaymonth=2 November | accessyear=2006] Connolly left in 2002 and was replaced by South African Nick Mallet. Stade Français won the domestic league again in both 2003 and 2004. During the 2004-05 season Stade Français went close to winning both the French league and the Heineken Cup, but lost both finals; beaten by Biarritz domestically and by Toulouse in the European Heineken Cup after extra time in Scotland. Mallett soon returned home to South Africa and former Stade Français player and national captain Fabien Galthié was appointed head coach. Stade won the 2006-07 championship, defeating Clermont 23 points to 18 at Stade de France.

Name, logo and colours

In the 1880s, many emerging sports clubs were modelled after English institutions and took on English names (Racing Club, Standard, Sporting, Daring, etc.). The name "Stade" was chosen by the young students as a reminder of Ancient Greece, for the "Stadium" (Stade) was where the athletes performed their feats. "Français" came later. Ironically, it was probably given by British players, against whom the "Stadistes" played early on, to differentiate them from their own Paris associations as rugby was very much an expatriates' game in the late 1880s. In those years, France also lived with the memory of the war lost to Germany in 1871. The patriotic appeal of "la revanche" ("the revenge") is probably behind the choice of the blue, white and red colours of the French national flag, and of the name Stade Français (written with a lower-case "f" in French: "Stade français"). Blue and red are also the colours of the city of Paris, which has been providing a lot of support since 1994 (Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë is a loyal supporter and a close friend of Stade chairman Max Guazzini. Guazzini served as Delanoë's legal counsel in the late 1970s and early 1980s).

Royal blue (of a fairly darker hue in the recent seasons) is the main colour, used for the jersey, while the shorts are red and the stockings white. The logo sports the club’s three colours, blue, white and red. The white letters S and F (the club’s initials) are painted on a red-blue shield. The twelve blue stars represent the twelve championship wins.

President Guazzini wanted to create identifiable jerseys. He first decided to include three flashes of lighting, which are now the club’s emblem, and to have a new shirt every year. In 2005, Guazzini went further and chose to shock the ’’macho’’ world of rugby by introducing a pink away jersey, pink being one of the rarest colours used by sports teams. Stade Français played their first match in the new colours at Perpignan in September 2005 and lost (12-16). They then used it regularly. On April 15, 2006, SF played at Toulouse and asked permission to don their pink jersey. The referee refused because, he said, pink would clash with Toulouse’s red.

The club sold 20,000 pink replica jerseys in 2005-06. Guazzini also had more than 10,000 pink flags manufactured, which were scattered on the seats at the Stade de France for the two games against Toulouse and Biarritz. Two new jerseys were introduced at the beginning of the 2006-07 season. A pink one, designed by fashion designer Kenzo, was used for Stade’s home debut against Montpellier on August 19, 2006. A new navy blue one was used for the second home game against Bayonne on September 9, 2006, and has raised questions as it sports big pink lilies, green flashes and green numbers in the back (green is not a club colour). It had been officially presented to the players a few minutes before the game and received by them with cheers and claps. Only wing Christophe Dominici had been allowed to see it beforehand. The radio-controlled car used to bring the tee to the kicker was painted in pink for the 2006-2007 season.

Home grounds

The team's home stadium is Stade Jean-Bouin which has a capacity of 12,000. Guazzini made a decision to take a European quarter final match against Newcastle to the significantly larger Parc des Princes, which is literally across the street from Stade Jean-Bouin. Guazzini booked the national stadium of France, the 80,000 Stade de France for a Top 14 fixture against Toulouse. The move was successful, with 79,502 officially turning up for the game, smashing the regular season attendance record in France. At the end of the match, Guazzini announced that he had booked the venue for the Biarritz match - a rematch of the 2004-05 final. Stade Français drew an even larger crowd to the game (79,604), toppling the previous record set that same season.

After a period of much speculation, the match was taken to the Stade Charléty, remaining in Paris. On October 14, 2006, the record was broken for the third time in a row (79,619) for a championship tie against Biarritz. Stade Français booked Parc des Princes for a Heineken Cup showdown with the Sale Sharks on December 10, 2006 and drew 44,100 to see Stade win 27-16. On January 27, 2007, Stade Français set yet another French attendance record by drawing 79,741 to Stade de France for their 22-20 win over Toulouse. [cite web|url=http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3242,36-860715@51-805390,0.html |title=Le Stade Français sort vainqueur du choc contre Toulouse |language=French |publisher=AFP via "Le Monde" |date=28 January 2007] Stade Français played their opening match of the 2007-08 season at Stade de France against Clermont; they failed to set a national attendance record this time, but still drew 75,620. [cite news|url=http://www.lequipe.fr/Rugby/TOP14_20072008_1j.html |title=Paris roi du finish |first=Philippe |last=Verneaux |language=French |publisher="L'Équipe" |date=2007-10-28 |accessdate=2007-10-28] On March 22 2008, they played their home match against Toulouse at Stade de France for the third straight season, [cite web|url=http://www.lnr.fr/Menus.asp?CR=16354&CSR=16378 |title=Calendrier Top 14 - Saison 2007 / 2008 |language=French |publisher=Ligue nationale de rugby |accessdate=2008-02-12] and set yet another record with 79,779 in attendance.cite web|url=http://lnr.fr/omm/upload/Affluences_spectateurs_TOP14_J25.pdf |title=Championnat de France Rugby TOP 14, saison 2007/2008: Affluences totales |format=PDF |language=French |publisher=Ligue Nationale de Rugby |accessdate=2008-06-21] The 2007-08 season marked the first time that Stade Français played a third regular-season match at Stade de France, as they booked the venue for their June 7 match with Biarritz; they drew 79,544 for that match.

In 2008-09, they will play four home matches at Stade de France—their Top 14 home fixtures against Toulouse, Perpignan and Clermont, plus a Heineken Cup pool match against Harlequins.


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Max Guazzini, a media man, wanted to develop the club as a modern business and use marketing methods. He never hesitates when it comes to promoting his club and creating a buzz. As a result, the club has been attracting an equal number of cheers and criticisms. The first objective was to offer a nice show to people who would then become regular paying fans. Guazzini also introduced female cheerleaders,cite web | publisher=Yahoo | title=Rugby-French clubs storm the Stade de France | url=http://au.sports.yahoo.com/051014/3/p/b4sl.html| accessdaymonth=2 November | accessyear=2006] music before kick-off, the sound of bells to mark the end of each half (instead of a more traditional siren), fireworks at the end of evening matches and a radio-controlled car to bring the tee to the kicker when he takes a penalty or a conversion kick.

His successful radio station NRJ (he helped develop it when he joined it in 1982, a year after it was founded) was a generous sponsor too. His contacts in show business allowed him to bring superstars Madonna and Naomi Campbell to some games, making them the official club's “godmothers”.cite web | publisher=Telegraph | title=Stade's big names seek to live up to billing | url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?xml=/sport/2001/04/19/srmick20.xml| accessdaymonth=15 October | accessyear=2006] The club's official anthem was Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive", long before France used it as theirs in the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

In 2001, Guazzini initiated a calendar called Dieux du Stade, i.e. "The Gods of Stade (Français)", a play on the word "stade" which also means "stadium". In French, "The Gods of the Stadium" is a metaphor for athletes in general, especially those who perform in athletics.cite web | publisher=Sunday Herald | title=Lamont in le plein monty | url=http://www.sundayherald.com/58611| accessdaymonth=2 November | accessyear=2006] It includes black and white pictures of the team’s players, naked, adopting postures of athletes of the Greco-Roman Antiquity and hiding their private parts. A new one has been made every year since, with guest stars on several occasions, such as Frédéric Michalak and Olivier Magne in 2003. Profits partly go to charities. A DVD covering the making of the calendar has been released each year since the 2004 edition. All have been extremely successful with women and the gay community. The 2006-07 edition has raised controversy over the pictures, which have been deemed more explicit than in previous years.

Guazzini’s latest moves include renting the Parc des Princes and the Stade de France for big games, and using pink jerseys. Stade Français are heavily criticized by old-timers, especially in France's rugby bastions in the south, for their innovative spirit which tends to hurt traditional image and values of rugby such as humility and seriousness. Some people are wary of the club’s relation to the world of media and show business (players are regularly invited as TV show guests). The critiques can also be explained by the historic "Paris vs provinces" divide and some form of acrimony in the rest of the country for everything that comes from the capital. Others consider it is good for rugby in its quest to maintain itself as France's second most popular sport after football (soccer) and shed its image as a gross rural south-western form of fistfight.

Rivalries

Paris was the cradle of French rugby union. Stade Français and Racing Club de France, two Paris-based outfits, actually played the first ever club match in France in May 1891, won by Stade 3-0, and were the only two clubs to take part in the first ever championship the following year. In fact, the first seven championships were fought exclusively between Parisian teams. Though they played Olympique de Paris in two finals, Stade’s main foe became Racing Club de France whom they came up against in the first two finals, in play-off matches in the following years, as well as in several Championnat de Paris matches.cite web | publisher=rugby-pioneers.com | title=Stade Français vs Racing Club de France | url=http://rugby-pioneers.blogs.com/rugby/2006/07/stade_franais_v.html| accessdaymonth=2 November | accessyear=2006] Racing was a more aristocratic club and Stade a more popular one.

Another rivalry, with Stade Bordelais, took its place, when clubs from outside Paris were finally allowed to play in 1899. The teams were going to meet in 7 of the next 10 finals, with Bordeaux winning 5 of them. Yet the most heated one was the first Stade won in 1901. Bordeaux won the match 3-0 on a hotly debated try. Afterwards, Stade accused Bordeaux of fielding three ineligible players: earlier in the year, Stade Bordelais had merged with Bordeaux Université Club to become Stade Bordelais Université Club, but three of those new players had not been with the club for at least three months as the rules dictated. The USFSA ordered a replay, but Bordeaux claimed their honour and honesty were at stake and refused it. Stade Français were declared the winners and this was how their sixth title was won.

Bordeaux had to wait three years to get their revenge in one of the dirtiest finals, in which the whistle was held by a very quiet and "blasé" Englishman, Billy Williams (who, four years later was to get the English RFU to buy some land for Twickenham). Kicks in the shins succeeded blows in the face. Spectators joined in and booed the kickers in a very poor and sad match. A reporter appalled at what he saw commented: "I’ve never seen thug fights in the seediest parts of town, but that is probably what it looks like.”cite web | publisher=LNR.fr | title=La Faisanderie, Saint-Cloud, 27 mars 1904 | url=http://www.lnr.fr/Client/Menus.asp?CR=16358&CSR=16369&CSSR=16419&Cle=52303| accessdaymonth=30 October | accessyear=2006] Bordeaux won the next three finals, all against Stade. The rivalry was enhanced by the huge number of France players on the pitch. When France battled New Zealand for its first ever international match in 1906, it had 5 Stade Français and 4 Stade Bordelais players, the highest tallies for any club. The First World war put an end to the rivalry as neither of the two Stades regained their past glory. Today, Stade Français has no local rival. The "Paris versus the provinces" rhetoric is alive and kicking so that wherever Stade goes, it is met with traditional jeers people in the provinces throw at Parisians. Since its 1990s revival, its traditional foes have thus been all clubs not playing in Paris.

Naturally the fight for the top spots means that the most significant rivalries are with the other Top 14 big guns, Toulouse and Biarritz Olympique. Stade Français has been seen as the rising threat by the all powerful Toulousains who had won four consecutive titles (1994-97), before Paris won the next one. The clubs alternated for four years, winning two titles each until 2001, though they never met in the final. When they finally did, Stade Français walked all over Toulouse for an easy victory (32-18) in 2003. Toulouse got their revenge in 2005, when they won a tight Heineken Cup final in overtime (18-12 a.e.t.) at Murrayfield. The clubs often fight it out in the press, but there have never been any real tensions on the pitch, largely because many players have been playing together for France. Regular season games are rarely spectacular. In October 2005, Toulouse was the guest for the first ever regular season match at the Stade de France, but coach Guy Novès chose to leave key regular starters at home, so the Stade Français 29-15 victory was maybe not as significant.cite web | publisher=planet-rugby.com | title=Paris braces for gala night | url=http://www.planet-rugby.com/News/story_46705.shtml| accessdaymonth=2 November | accessyear=2006]

Stade Français games against Biarritz are another notable rivalry. The Red and White established themselves as another powerhouse in 2002 when they won the title, their first since 1939. Stade’s Heineken Cup semi-final victory in April 2005 probably did a lot to create tension between the two clubs, as Christophe Dominici scored the winning try after nine minutes of injury time at the Parc des Princes. Biarritz felt it had been done an injustice. A month later, the two clubs fought it out in the Top 14 final, which went down as the most physical and the most tense ever. Biarritz’s overtime victory in the highest scoring final ever (37-34) crowned a final on the “edge”.

Five months later, the two met again in Biarritz in a regular season match. A massive fistfight, in which almost all players were involved broke out after just 5 minutes, after a scrum went up and the first rows exploded. The referee handed two yellows and two reds to Stade’s Arnaud Marchois and BO’s Imanol Harinordoquy.cite web | publisher=smh.com.au | title=Champions Biarritz fall to Stade Francais | url=http://www.rugbyheaven.smh.com.au/articles/2005/09/18/1126981940508.html| accessdaymonth=2 November | accessyear=2006] The rest was extremely rough, full of scuffles and insults. Stade went on to win 14-7. As can be expected, everyone condemned the other camp after the match. Biarritz coach Patrice Lagisquet assured Paris had assaulted his players to destabilize them, while the Parisians acknowledged that the overtime loss in the Top 14 final had been hard to swallow, especially as they had the impression that Biarritz had overemphasized the physical side. Ever since, the matches between the two teams have been relatively quiet, with only the journalists to pump up the hoopla beforehand.

Honours

* French championship
**Champions: 1893, 1894, 1895, 1897, 1898, 1901, 1905, 1908, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2007
**Runners-up: 1896, 1899, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1927, 2005
* Heineken Cup
**Runners-up: 2000-01, 2004-05
* Coupe de France
** Champions: 1999
** Runners-up: 1998
*Coupe de l'Espérance
** Runners-up: 1916

Players

:"See also: "

Current Squad

rugby squad player | nat=France | pos=LK | name=David Auradou (c)

* St George Illawara centre Mark Gasnier will transfer to the club when the NRL season concludes in the Australian spring.

Notable Former Players

Coaches

:"See also: "

References

External links

* [http://www.stade.fr Official site] fr icon
* [http://www.itsrugby.co.uk/team-stadefrancais.html Overview] on itsrugby.co.uk
* [http://www.rugby15.co.uk/stadefrancais.html Stade Français profile] on Rugby15
* [http://ercrugby.com/eng/13_5536.php Stade Français Paris] on ERCrugby.com
* [http://www.vdd.asso.fr/ Virage des Dieux]
* [http://www.rugbynetwork.net/main/s103/st84093.htm?fromrss=1 Stade a preview and history]
* [http://garstontowers.blogspot.com/2008/10/hats-off-to-stade-francais.html Blog post with a gallery of Stade Francais shirts]


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