|Nickname(s) All Pinks|
League(s) Top 14
Location Paris, France
|President Thomas Savare|
Captain Sergio Parisse
|Full name Stade Français Club Athlétique des Sports Généraux|
Coach(es) Gonzalo Quesada (Manager)
Arenas/Stadiums Stade Jean-Bouin, Stade de France
Grounds Stade Jean-Bouin (Capacity: 20,000), Stade de France (Capacity: 80,000)
Stade Français CASG ([stad fʁɑ̃sɛ]) is 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.
- Name logo and colours
- Home grounds
- Dieux du Stade Calendars and DVDs
- Current squad
Stade Français was founded in 1883; its traditional home is Stade Jean-Bouin, though the club has recently played some home games at the 80,000-seat Stade de France, taking anywhere from two to five matches to the larger venue each season since 2005–06. Starting with the 2010–11 season, it moved its main home ground to the 20,000-capacity Stade Charléty in Paris to allow a new stadium to be built at the Jean-Bouin site. 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 team participated in the first French championship final in 1892, and went on to win numerous titles during the early 1900s. Stade Français 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 the team returning to the elite division in just five seasons, and capture four French championships in seven years. After a financial crisis plagued the club in 2011, Guazzini sold a majority stake and stepped down as club president. From 2009 to 2015, the team has known dark days. Indeed, the players don't achieve to reach the final phases. 2015 was a rebirth for them, the team reached the final phases and won three games in row, against Racing Métro, Toulon and Clermont and won also Top14.
Stade Français was established in 1883 by a group of students in Paris. On 20 March 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. 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 seven occasions against Stade 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.
While 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. 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.
The club faced serious financial issues during the 2010–11 season due to the failure of an affiliated advertising company. In early June 2011, Stade Français temporarily avoided an administrative relegation to the amateur Fédérale 1 league when Guazzini announced a deal by which an unnamed investor, working through a Canada-based foundation, would purchase a majority stake in the club. However, the deal collapsed in scandal, with at least three people linked to the deal arrested. On the deadline set by France's professional league for a resolution of the club's situation, Guazzini announced a new deal, in which Jean-Pierre Savare, chairman of French security systems company Oberthur Technologies, purchased a controlling stake in the club. Guazzini stepped down as president in favour of Savare's son Thomas, remaining with the club as honorary president.
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 provided support since 1994 (Bertrand Delanoë, mayor of Paris from 2001 to 2014, is a loyal supporter and a close friend of former Stade chairman Max Guazzini, who served as Delanoë's legal counsel in the late 1970s and early 1980s).
The traditional colours of Stade Français are royal blue jerseys, red shorts and white stockings. The club's old logo featured the letters S and F (the club's initials) in white on a red and blue halved shield. The twelve blue stars represent the twelve championship wins. The team's current colours are dark blue and pink. The current logo is a blue shield with the letters S and F and three flashes of lightning in pink.
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 15 April 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 19 August 2006. A new navy blue one was used for the second home game against Bayonne on 9 September 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 2006–07 season.
Some of the extravagant uniforms worn by the Stade Francais during the last years:
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 14 October 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 10 December 2006 and drew 44,100 to see Stade win 27–16. On 27 January 2007, Stade Français set yet another French attendance record by drawing 79,741 to Stade de France for their 22–20 win over Toulouse. 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. On 22 March 2008, they played their home match against Toulouse at Stade de France for the third straight season, and set yet another record with 79,779 in attendance. 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 7 June match with Biarritz; they drew 79,544 for that match.
In 2008–09, they played 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. They scheduled five Top 14 matches at Stade de France in 2009–10—Perpignan, Bayonne, Biarritz, Toulouse, and Clermont. In the upcoming 2010–11 season, the number of Top 14 matches at Stade de France will return to three, namely Toulon, Toulouse, and Clermont.
In the 2000s Stade Français has also taken some matches to another Paris ground, Stade Charléty, whose capacity of 20,000 is larger than that of Jean-Bouin. In 2009–10, they played their home leg of the Paris derby with Racing Métro there, and have made that stadium their regular home for the 2010–11 season while Jean-Bouin is being renovated.
Stade Français also planned to take their home 2009–10 Heineken Cup pool match against Ulster to Belgium at King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, but heavy snowfall on the intended matchday forced the fixture to be moved to Stade Jean-Bouin.
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, 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". 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.
Guazzini's latest moves include renting the Parc des Princes, Stade de France, and most recently King Baudouin Stadium for big games, and using pink jerseys. Stade Français are heavily criticised 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 Association football and shed its image as a gross rural south-western form of fistfight.
Dieux du Stade Calendars and DVDs
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. It includes black-and-white pictures of the team's players, naked, adopting postures of athletes of the classical Greco-Roman athletes 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.
Paris was the cradle of French rugby union. Stade Français and Racing Club de France, two Paris-based outfits, 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. Racing was a more aristocratic club and Stade a more popular one. The Stade-Racing rivalry will be renewed in 2009–10 with the promotion of Racing Club's successor, Racing Métro, to the Top 14.
Today, Stade Français has no established local rival, although Racing Métro may fill that role if it consolidates its current top-flight status. 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.
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.” 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.
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 over Toulouse for a 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.
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. 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 destabilise 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 overemphasised the physical side. Ever since, the matches between the two teams have been relatively quiet.
The current Stade Français squad is:
Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.