Oyonnax Rugby: Is Another Top 14 Entry on the Cards?
Oyonnax Rugby Highlights and Competitive History.
Oyonnax Rugby, formerly known as Union Sportive Oyonnax Rugby until 2018, is a French rugby union club formed 113 years ago in 1909. It started out plying its trade in the regional leagues until gaining promotion in 1967.
Despite its long history, the team hasn’t had a wealth of silverware success like other clubs that have existed for similar amounts of time. However, Oyonnax has recently shown signs of potential for the future.
The Early Years
Some teams taste success early when they first form. The adrenaline from early-day excitement and a drive to do well for the fans can give teams that extra 10% on the pitch. But, in Oyonnax’s case, this wasn’t the case, and it took the team right up until the 1924 season to win its first silverware in the league it was competing in at the time: the Première Série.
During the Second World War, Germany invaded France and disrupted the sport up and down the country. At this point, Oyonnax Rugby was named Club Sportif Oyonnaxien. However, due to the war and the Vichy regime, the team was forced to unite with other clubs, and the name Union Sportive Oyonnax Rugby was born; a name it would keep until it was shortened to just Oyonnax Rugby in 2018.
Oyonnax joined the First Division in 1967 after finishing as runners-up but was relegated to the lower divisions soon after.
Success Just Round the Corner?
In the 1991-92 season, Oyonnax finished as runners-up of Federale 1 Division B. Then, ten years later, in the 2000-01 season, Oyonnax was crowned Federale 1 champion but was unfortunately denied promotion.
The disappointment for the team and fans didn’t last long. In 2002-03 Oyonnax finished runners-up in Federale 1 and secured promotion to Pro D2 for the first time.
Its debut Pro D2 season was one that the people of Oyonnax were proud of, and the team finished 6th in the table, winning 14 of its 30 matches.
From here, the Oyomen continued to build their stability in the league for a few years after, even reaching the promotion playoffs occasionally. After that, however, Oyonnax slipped out of contention for promotion for a couple of years as it went through a recovery stage, signing new players before the 2012 season.
By the 2012-13 season, things turned around, and Oyonnax would go on to put on a historic performance for the club. After winning 24 out of its 30 matches and scoring an incredible 111 points, Oyonnax finally gained promotion to Top 14, the highest standard of rugby union in France.
The following season, the team only just survived relegation by a single point. However, in the following 2014-15 season, the Oyomen left fans in dreamland after finishing 6th on the Top 14 ladder, entering the country’s top division playoffs for the first time. They were unfortunately defeated 20-19 by Toulouse, but it was a heroic effort from a team that was only playing its second Top 14 season.
Unfortunately, the team was relegated the following season and has since yoyoed between the top 3 leagues, struggling to maintain stability in any league. However, its Honorary President, Roger Nicollet, and coaches Joe EL ABD, Manny Edmonds, and Vincent Debaty helped steer the team to finish the 2021-22 season in 3rd place in the Pro D2 league, only to face defeat in the semi-finals of the playoffs against Bayonne, 32-20.
With the club in a good place and pushing for promotion from the competitive Pro D2 league, fans of the Oyonmen will be hoping the players can bring a bit more stability to the club’s performance and bring it back to Top 14 once again.
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