Rouen Normandie: From Financial Ruin to the Pro D2
Rouen Normandie Highlights and History
Rouen Normandie is the successor of Racing Club de Rouen, the first union rugby team to represent Rouen. The club emerged from the ashes left behind by Racing Club de Rouen, which had to end its 89-year-long adventure because of insolvency.
Historically, Rouen has lived under the shadows of its neighbor Le Havre when it comes to union rugby. Le Havre pioneered rugby not only in Normandy but also in France. In 1920, Racing Club de Rouen Rouen joined the flourishing rugby union scene with a team of its own.
1920-2009: The Racing Club de Rouen Years
After spending several years at amateur levels, Racing Club de Rouen made it to the third division in 1954. They had spent 18 years there before ascending to the second tier of French domestic rugby.
2009: Racing Club de Rouen Is Dissolved
In 2009, the Racing administration had to throw in the towel and dissolve the club. The club had been facing financial difficulties for years. At that point, the club hierarchy barely had any options other than admitting defeat.
2009: Rouen Is Reborn
Rugby had become integral to the cultural identity of Rouen. It simply could not disappear! Hence, Stade Rouennais was born in the ruins of Racing Cub de Rouen.
Fédérale 3 to Fédérale 2
The new Rouen club started to play in Fédérale 3 in 2009. The goal was to make the jump to Fédérale 2 as early as possible.
That ambition came to reality in 2013. Afterward, club president Marc-Antoine Troletti appointed Tim Hill as the club’s manager. The 1991 World Cup finalist brought along English talents like Ben Mercer, Luke Cozens, Ed Carne, and Joe Ellyatt.
2013-2015 Fédérale 2 to Fédérale 3
Tim Hill’s experience and technical knowledge were instrumental in Stade Rouennais cementing its place in Fédérale 2. Two years after taking over the reins, Hill oversaw Rouennais’ promotion to Fédérale 1 in 2015.
Stade Rouennais proved it was no pushover in the division as it progressed to the quarterfinals in its first Fédérale 1 season. Rouennais lost to SO Chambéry, who went on to win the Fédérale 1 title that season.
Change of Ownership: The Dawn of a New Era
The season after its promotion to Fédérale 1 was a milestone season for Stade Rouennais. First, the club had a change of ownership. Jean-Louis Louvel Norman, the CEO of the PGS group, bought the club and invested heavily to improve the squad.
The new administration realized the importance of Tim Hill at the club and immediately moved to tie him down to a new deal. Hill agreed to prolong his stay at the club and penned a new contract that will keep him at Rouen till 2023.
But, the best was yet to come!
2017: Jean Prat Trophy
In 2017, Stade Rouennais ended the season with its first piece of silverware, winning the Jean Prat Trophy and making its fans believe that promotion to D2 was not far away.
Rebrand and Promotion to Pro D2
Basking in the glory of success, the club announced that it would rebrand itself as Rouen Normandie. Moreover, the club officials expressed their ambition of clinching a Pro D2 spot within two years. They kept their promise!
2019: Fédérale 1 Champion and Pro D2 Promotion
In the 2018/19 season, Rouen Normandie became Fédérale 1 champion and got the ticket to D2 rugby for the following season. Rouen made a remarkable comeback to defeat Valence Romans DR in the final.
The club had secured D2 promotion earlier when it made it to the final by beating Albi in the semis. It was a great relief for Rouen fans, who had seen their team lose the D2 qualification playoffs in the previous season.
In the 2019/20 season, Rouen Normandie became the first team from Rouen to feature in Pro D2. The club has been in the division since then.
Tragedy as Jordan Michallet Passes Away
Halfway through the 21/22 season, Rouen Normandie suffered a major setback as its flyhalf Jordan Michallet tragically passed away. Despite this tragic event, the club managed to finish 14th and hold on to its D2 status.