Rugby in France currently holds second place in the country’s most popular sports and, despite the south’s overwhelming dominance, it still holds its ground in Parisian culture. Whether you’re a long-term rugby fan or just want to know what the fuss is all about, a rugby match is definitely one of the unique experiences Paris has to offer.
Stadiums in Paris
Paris’ most important football stadiums are used to hold rugby matches as well. France’s Top 14 league – its elite championship – includes two Parisian clubs that could make an entire trip worthwhile for any sports fan.
Well-known and successful Stade Français and exclusive Racing Métro offer great home games in Paris during the Top 14 season. Tickets for championship rugby games are not as expensive as those for football international leagues, yet the spectacle can be quite similar – and, most of all, equally entertaining. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the French national team go against some of the world’s most renowned rugby national teams: let’s not forget that France hosted the rugby World Cup in 2007.
Stade de France: the Stade de France in Saint-Denis is usually considered a symbol for France’s 1998 World Cup football victory but has also been witness to some of the most exciting rugby matches in the land. The stadium can seat up to 80,000 spectators for rugby matches and is designed to resemble a giant flying saucer. Currently considered to be one more of Paris’ enthralling landmarks, the Stade de France is usually open for guided tours even if no events are taking place.
Stade Jean-Bouin: located in Paris’ 16th arrondissement, the Stade Jean-Bouin currently serves as the home stadium of Stade Français, Paris’ local rugby team par excellence. The stadium is able to seat 12,000 people and is right across the street from Parc des Princes.
Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir: commonly known for its Olympic status, this stadium is located in Colombes, near Paris, and can be referred to as the Stade Olympique de Colombes. It holds 50,000 spectators (despite future plans to redevelop it to seat only 15,000) and is currently used as the Racing Métro’s home stadium.
Previously known as the Top 16, the Top 14 is France’s annual most elite rugby championship that currently revolves around the country’s top fourteen rugby teams. Despite rugby being far more popular in southern France, there are two Parisian teams that usually take part in the Top 14 – Stade Français and Racing Métro – and bring home matches to the country’s thriving capital.
And if you’re twice as lucky, you might even visit during competitive international championships such as the coveted Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup. France has historically rocked both championships year after year, so you’ll be sure to catch a great show whenever those championships are in town. By the way, rugby season is usually held from August through June, so make sure you book early if you’re interested in experiencing the Parisian rugby scene first-hand!
Some of the most important rugby teams in France are:
• SC Albi
• Aviron Bayonnais
• Biarritz Olympique
• CS Bourgoin-Jallieu
• CA Brive
• Castres Olympique
• ASM Clermont Auvergne
• US Montauban
• Montpellier Hérault RC
• USA Perpignan
• Racing Métro
• Stade Français
• RC Toulonnais
• Stade Toulousain
Stade Toulousain is the team with most Top 14 championships (17), closely followed by Stade Français (13) and AS Béziers (11). Racing Métro currently holds 5 Top 14 championships.
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