Stade Michel Bendichou
Colomiers Rugby: Reborn From the Ashes
Colomiers Rugby History, Highlights.
Colomiers Rugby is a French rugby union club that was first founded during the First World War in 1915. Until a 2008 name change, Colomiers Rugby was known as Union Sportive Colomiers (US Colomiers).
Like many with a long history, the team has had its fair share of ups and downs. Just six years after the team’s creation, other sides in the region recognized Colomiers Rugby had recruited some high-quality players, and recruited them for their own. Unfortunately, this left Colomiers struggling for players. As a result, the team was disbanded in 1928, and their existence ceased for some time.
Reborn from the Ashes
In May 1963, a meeting between a group of men took place, and the rugby club was reborn from the ashes. It was here that the team announced its first President, Raymond Paupy, who, over his 13-year reign, helped the team not only compete once again but also guided the team to become successful.
In 1978, a new President, Jean Brunet, was hired. He laid the foundations for the team to follow to achieve success. He believed success would come from investing in the young men of the team, some as young as seventeen, and that the results would follow in the years to come. The “train players but also men” attitude generated strong ambitions within the club and resulted in a promotion to the upper division.
Confidence and Morale Equal Success
In the modern era, Colomiers tasted success for the first time by winning the 1997-98 European Championship. After getting through their group undefeated, the men in their dark blue strip faced AS Montferrand in the quarter-finals, scoring 23-13. They then went on to meet one of the most successful teams in the history of French rugby, Stade Francais, and managed to pull off a shock result, 19-13.
With nothing to lose and confidence running through their veins, Colomiers turned in an incredible performance in front of 12,500 spectators and defeated SU Agen, 43-5. The win allowed them to enter the prestigious Heineken Cup the following season. Again, they fought like lions and managed to get to the 1999 final, only losing to the favorites, Ulster, 21-6.
By the turn of the century, the team had built a strong side and finished runner-up in the 2000 French Championship, only losing in the final in front of 78,000 fans to Stade Francais, 28-23. Despite the loss, the period for the team was one to enjoy, and there wasn’t any indication that it would stop.
Stop, however, it did.
The Bad Luck Returned
Tragedy struck in 2004 when President Michel Bendichou, a former player and a man that bled the club through his veins, died due to illness. He’d been part of the club for 37 years, and they renamed the stadium in his honor; such was his influence.
The loss of Bendichou was felt deeply, and the season was a disaster, setting off a period where the club descended into instability. Relegation to Federal 1 was confirmed in 2004; however, they bounced straight back and were French Federal champions the following year.
The club suffered relegation again in 2007; however, they replicated their bounce-back ability to be promoted and named champions in 2008, confirming their place in Pro D2. This was again replicated in 2011 and 2012. However, the club’s new President, Alan Carre, is keen to bring stability back to the club while following tradition and investing in youth.
In the 2019-20 season and with just seven games yet to play, Colomiers Rugby was looking set for promotion, having been top of Pro D2 in French Rugby. However, with COVID-19 striking, the season was canceled. The team would then miss out in the knockout round the season after.
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