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Famous Rivalries in Paris Rugby
Rugby is a major sport in Paris, and people take it seriously. Stade Francais, Paris' home team, has become involved in many famous rugby rivalries over the past hundred year. Though international tournaments have cut down on the ferociousness of team rivalries, they still exist, nonetheless.
Stade Francais, in its current format only began as a team in 1995. The team formed through the merger of Stade Francais and Club Athlétique des Sports Généraux. and However, there is a much longer rugby legacy in Paris. Stade Francais was originally founded in 1883 by a group of students in Paris. Rugby had been played in England for only a short amount of time before that. Stade Francais was an important name in rugby until about 1908 when the club fell out of favor and into a lower division where they remained for nearly 90 years. Stade Francais became an important and well loved rugby team in the 1990s.
Stade Bordelias are a team from Bordeaux France. Their rivalry with Stade Francais has lasted over 100 years, beginning in 1899. In the 1901 championship game, Stade Francais lost to Bordelias for the first time. The rivalry was then taken to a new level when Stade Francais challenged Bordelias's win, claiming they had players on their team who were not eligible to play in the final. Bordelias refused to play another match and then win was given to Stade Francais. Stade Bordelias remained on top of their game until 1911 in which they began to fade into the background of French rugby.
Racing Club de France
Racing Club de France is the first team that Stade Francais played on a competitive level. This rivalry is nearly as old as rugby in France. Their first match in 1891 was won by Stade Francais but they kept on playing each other year after year. Racing Club de France was known as the team of the upper class, while Stade Francais was known as the people's team. This rivalry faded into the background as Racing Club de France faded away. The rivalry between these two teams is expected to surface again as Metro 92, the current name of Racing Club de France, makes its way back onto the rugby scene. At that time their rivalry represented the best team from the city and the best provincial team in the country.
A more modern rivalry exists between Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque and Stade Francais. Biarritz Olympique began to win major matches in 2002, letting the rest of the Top 14 know that they were a real contender. Many of the recent matches between Biarritz Olympique and Stade Francais have turned violent, even resulting in players getting yellow card. The rivalry is built up by the media. The Top 14 Championship in 2005 is considered to be one of the most tense and physical championships in recent years. Biarritz Olympique won that match.
Toulouse is one of the best rugby clubs in France. They have won many recent French Championships, as well as the international Heineken Cup. It is only natural then that Stade Francais would have tension with this team. Unlike Biarritz in which fights have been known to break out, the tension between Toulouse and Stade Francais remains mostly off the pitch. The media enjoys pitting these two teams, who are arguably the best two, against each other.