Rugby and our region

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Rugby, a ruffian’s game, played by gentlemen


The history of rugby officially starts in 1823 when William Webb Ellis, a 16 year-old student, grabs the ball during a game of football and runs forward, holding it with both hands, while playing in Rugby, a little town lying between Oxford and Cambridge. Rugby football was born. 

At first French rugby was almost exclusively restricted to Paris, until 1899 when the National Rugby Championship was open to other French clubs, hence triggering the development of other, non-Paris-based clubs, in particular in the South-West of the country. 

By 1906, France had it own national team and in 1921 the French Rugby Federation was formed in order to allow a better development of this sport in France. 

Then, and with a few exceptions only, the South West part of France literally takes over the Championship from 1912 onwards, with Bayonne, first, and then Tarbes, Perpignan, Toulouse, Biarritz, Pau, Narbonne, Lourdes, Agen, Castres, Béziers, Dax, Brive, and then again Toulouse whose “Stade Toulousain”, with 18 National Champion titles to its name, is the most successful French club.

There exist two codes of rugby football, Rugby league, with13 players per side, and the one most widely played, Rugby union, with a team of 15 per side. For 80 minutes  the game develops at the quickened pace of scrums, line-outs and tackles when two teams compete over an oval-shaped ball that players can kick or run with in order to score more tries or kick goals than the opposing team. 

Rugby is a game whose amateur status has long allowed it to preserve its values: respect towards one’s opponent, courage and friendship to name but a few. As the French rugby player and coach Pierre Villepreux puts it « in a rugby team, there are no passengers, just one crew ».

Rugby football holds a significant place in the local identity of the South-West of France. Every town and village, no matter how small, has its own rugby team as is the case with Rieumes whose rugby club dates back from 1904! It goes without saying that big cities of the South-West are keen to display their own team’s flag, and down here people are proud to wear the black and red colours of the Stade Toulousain.

Rieume’s Sporting Club website:

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