RC Aubenas Vals: Updates on Nationale 2 Promotion
RC Aubenas Vals History and Highlights.
Rugby Club Aubenas Vals marked the regenesis of rugby in the region of Aubenas. When Auguste Martin and Albert Durand established the club in 1966, there was no active rugby union club that bore the flag of Aubenas. However, RC Aubenas Vals doesn’t only represent Aubenas; it’s also a representative of the commune of Vals-les-Bains.
Rugby in Aubenas
Aubenas had its first rugby team in 1906. But by 1950, no rugby clubs in the regions were operational. So, the arrival of RC Aubenas Vals heaved a breath of fresh air into the dormant rugby scene in Aubenas. With RC Aubenas Vals, Vals-les-Bains residents also got a rugby team to cheer for.
The club’s first challenge was to come out of the fourth division in the region of the Alps. By 1971, the club had become the second division champion of the Alps. In 1978, the club moved to the 3rd division at the national level. Ten years later, it earned a promotion to the second division.
Climb to Pro D2
In 1999, RCAVC became the Nationale 1 champion and moved up to Elite 2, which is currently known as the Pro-D2. It beat Sporting Club Graulhetois 25-24 in the final to climb up to the second-highest tier of French rugby.
Most promoted teams struggle to cope with the intensity of Pro-D2, but RC Aubenas Vals proved itself to be a different beast. It raced to a fifth-place finish in the division. It was a massive success for the team, but it suffered a big setback during the offseasons as Rémy Martin, one of the key players of the team, left the club for Stade Montois.
Fall to Fédérale 2
But, the club had another strong season in the Elite 2 in 2001 and narrowly missed out on a Top 16 promotion. But, it could not keep up the momentum in 2002 as it finished 11th in the division and dropped down.
RC Aubenas Vals started its journey in Fédérale 1 in 2003. In 2004, the club made it to the finals, but its run ended in the quarterfinals. The club stumbled in the quarterfinals in the next season as well. In 2006, RCAV finally ended its quarterfinal hoodoo, only to lose against Marmande in the semis.
In 2011, the club suffered another blow as it found itself in the Fédérale 2. However, the club did not stick in the division for long. It got back to Fédérale 1 in 2012, and two years after its return, RC Aubenas Vals locked horns with Montauban in the Fédérale 1 semifinals. But, it could not get past Montauban, which won the competition in the end.
The Return to Nationale
In 2015, RCAV returned to the Fédérale 1 semifinals again. But, once again, a narrow defeat denied it further progression. In 2016/17, the club came close to making a return to Pro-D2, but it suffered a disappointing defeat in the playoff final and abandoned its dream for the season.
The club launched two more unsuccessful attempts at gaining Pro-D2 promotion from Fédérale 1, before joining the Nationale for the 2020/21 season. In its first season at the new division, RCAV finished rock bottom. It avoided defeat in only 6 of the 20 Nationale matches it played.
But, rather unexpectedly, the pandemic bailed the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes outfit out. Fédération Française de Rugby decided against relegating any team since all clubs were heavily affected by the pandemic. So, RCAV had another shot at redeeming itself in the Nationale division.
But, it could not make the best out of it. In 2021/22, the club finished 13 among 14 teams in the division. Next season, RC Aubenas Vals will play in Nationale 2.