Country : France
Club: Racing-Metro 92
Stadium Name Stade Yves-Du-Manoir
Stadium Address 12, rue Francois-Faber
Club Web Site:
Home Colours: Blue and White
Away Colours: Black or Red
League (2015/16): Top 14
Racing-Metro 92: An Introduction
Racing-Metro 92 was formed in 2001 with the combination of the Racing Club de France and US Metro. “92” is the number of Haute-de-Seine, the department of Ile-de-France, bordering Paris to the west, where they play.
A Brief History
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 in 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 Francais. The game was refereed by Pierre de Coubertin of Olympics Games fame, and saw racing win 4-3. Racing were awarded the Bouclier de Brennus, which is still awarded to the winners of the French championship.
In the wake of their fifth, and most recent, French championship in 1990, 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 came back to the top tier in 1998, went down again in 2000, and were promoted back to the top tier in 2009.
In 2001 the rugby section split off from the general sports club to merge with the rugby section of US Metro, the Paris public transport sports club, to form the current professional concern, known as Racing Metro 92. Both Racing Club de France and US metro retained their other amateur general sports sections.
In France, early organised sports were a preserve of wealthy people. Racing Club became the epitome of the exclusive athletics club, located as it was in the heart of the Bois de Boulogne in the affluent western district of Paris. As the club’s name, Racing, might indicate, it was modelled after the fashionable English sports organisations, who’s 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. Fewer aristocrats might belong to the club now, but it is still very complicated to join, and the identity an image is one of exclusivity.
Much later, in the 1980’s, a talented new generation of players revived the club’s spirit. They carried it back to 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. They once played a game in Bayonne with berets on their heads as a tribute to the tradition of attacking play of the Basque club Aviron Bayonnais. As members of a gang which they called le show biz, they played other matches with black make-up on, hair dyed yellow, bald caps, wigs, and even dressed up as pelote players for a match against Biarritz in March,1990. They played the 1987 final against Toulon with a pink bow tie. 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 top-flight title!
Racing Metro today.
It has, by Parisian standards, been a quiet revolution. Nothing too flashy or triumph list, no provocative celebrations. A sky-blue power is starting to emerge within French rugby. Jacky Lorenzetti is one of France’s wealthiest men; three years ago he was estimated to be worth about £587m from real estate. Having sold 93% of his company at the height of the property boom in 2007, he has poured bucketloads into Racing Metro 92.
Lorenzetti’s grand vision is taking shape faster than even he imagined. The next step is to move away from their present base to a 30,000-seater stadium in La Defense, the Paris equivalent of Canary wharf, in three years’ time.With an operating budget for 2010/11 of £16.1 French rugby’s answer to Manchester City seem destined to be a serious force for the foreseeable future.
Updated October 2015
copyright Miles & Miles Publishing 2015