USA Perpignan's History
USA Perpignan’s History, Highlights
Popularly known as USA Perpignan, Union Sportive Arlequins Perpignanais is a French rugby union club. Founded in 1902 as AS Perpignan, it was later renamed US Perpignan in 1919. In 1933 the club adopted the name USA Perpignan after a merger with another club in Perpignan. The club derived the colors for its original red and gold logo from the Catalan flag.
USAP is currently competing in the Top 14 after being promoted from Pro D2 at the end of the 2020–21 rugby season. And while the club has seen a lot of success over the years, it has not been without its fair share of downs, particularly in recent years.
First French Championship Victory
In 1914, the club made its first final appearance and won the game. They were declared champions after defeating Stadoceste Tarbais (today known as Stado Tarbes Pyrénées Rugby). After the victory, the 19-year-old Aimé Giral became the captain, who unfortunately lost his life in WW1, alongside seven other team members.
Seven years after their 1914 championship-winning performance, USAP made it to the finals again, defeating Stadoceste Tarbais to once again become the French champions. However, in the finals three seasons later, Stadoceste Tarbais turned the tables to defeat USA Perpignan.
USAP Club was already declared champions twice, and failure in 1924 after reaching the finals only boosted the team’s motivation to conquer the championship. This saw them put on a stellar performance in the 1925 season, reaching the finals and defeating US Carcassonne, sealing its third French championship victory. But unfortunately, in the next season, they reached the finals again, only to be defeated once more by Stadoceste Tarbais.
A 1938 Resurgence
USA Perpignan didn’t make it to the finals again for almost a decade. When it finally did in 1935, however, the team unfortunately lost against Biarritz. On the positive side, however, they were declared the champions of Challenge Yves du Manoir the same year.
But real victory would have to wait a few more years, until USAP’s 1938 reappearance in the finals. This time it again faced Biarritz, reversing its 1935 result to claim its first French Championship title since 1925.
Following its 1935 triumph, it would be another five years before USAP appeared in the finals again, with the club unable to reach the top positions in the years between. Yet, despite the lull in performance, USAP still came out on top this time, defeating Aviron Bayonnais with perfection. USA Perpignan was declared the Champions of France for the fifth time.
1955: A Historic Double Victory
For Perpignan’s next victory, the team would have to wait, although it did come close eight years on from its 1944 victory, when it appeared in the 1952 finals, only to get defeated by FC Lourdes.
But three years later, in 1955, USAP would put on one of its greatest performances. In a rematch of its 1952 final, USAP faces FC Lourdes in the finals. This time, however, USAP took the lead and defeated FC Lourdes. And if that wasn’t enough, that same year USAP also took out the Yves du Manoir Challenge for the first time in 20 years.
Yves du Manoir Challenge Winners
1955 would prove to be something of a pinnacle for USAP, and the club wouldn’t taste another French Championship victory for almost another six decades.
Of course, the team did put up some decent performances and even came close when it managed a finals appearance in 1977, only to get defeated by AS Béziers. It also took out a 1965 Yves du Manoir Challenge title, followed by another in 1994. However, that was about it until 2009.
USAP made the transition to full professionalization when French rugby entered the professional era in 1995.
Shortly following this in 1998, it would then make its first finals appearance in over 20 years. Unfortunately, victory alluded USAP again, with the team suffering a 34–7 defeat against Stade Français.
2009 Top 14 Champion
USAP’s seventh French Championship title would finally come in the 2009 Top 14 finals. This time, USAP faced ASM Clermont Auvergne, taking the victory for its first title in 54 years. Unfortunately, USAP would be unable to repeat this performance when it again faced ASM Clermont Auvergne in the 2010 final.
The Turbulent Years
In the decade following its victory in the first division Top 14 competition, USAP would face relegation to Pro D2 on two occasions.
The first of these relegations was in 2014, which it reversed by defeating FC Grenoble in the 2018 Pro D2 championships. Unfortunately, it would only last a year back in Top 14 before being relegated.
However, USAP recovered and claimed the Pro D2 championship win in 2020, defeating Biarritz and earning its place back in Top 14 for the 2021-22 season.