Sporting Club Albigeois: Stadium, Coaches, and History
Sporting Club Albigeois Hightlights and History.
Sporting Club Albigeois officially came into existence in 1906, but its roots date back to 1901. A group of school students and soldiers formed Stade Albigeois as the fourth rugby club in the entire department of Tarn. With the inclusion of football, tennis, and athletics five years later, the club became the multisports organization it is today.
The first title came twenty years later, on November 28, 1926, with a victory in the final of the Pyrenees championship, the summit of regional rugby, against the reigning French champion Stade Toulousain.
Structural and Name Changes
Sporting Club Albigeois went through another structural change in 1940. The Vichy regime forced clubs from cities with fewer than 50,000 inhabitants to merge. As a result, SCA and Racing Club Albigensian unified into Albi Olympique. Under this name, the club won two French Challenges in 1942 and 1943, with the legendary Jo Maraval coaching the team.
Albi Olympique was a short-lived name, though, as the club returned to its old name in 1945. In 1949, the SCA reached the national division (first division) and even progressed to the quarterfinals in 1955. Unfortunately, it lost to US Romans after eliminating one of the favorites Racing Club in the round of 16.
The climb to the national first division
Sporting Club Albigeois underwent a period of inconsistency in the following years. SCA was moving back and forth between the top two tiers. In 1974, SCA beat Stade Toulouse in the round of 16, but the club could not make it past CA Brive in the quarterfinal.
The relegation the following year was followed by a new promotion in 1977, then another in 1980. Then, for five seasons, the SCA played at the highest level before falling back to Group B in 1985. The club remained in Group B and then in the amateur elite because of the changes made to the French domestic rugby union structure.
The 2000s started with a revival. The Sporting Club Albigeois played three consecutive finals of Nationale 1/Fédérale 1 in 2000, 2001 and 2002, all lost to Oloron Sainte-Marie, Tour and Lyon Olympique Universitaire. Nevertheless, despite the last defeat in 2002, the SCA reached the Pro D2.
Finally, thanks to two last victories in the Pro D2 playoffs against AS Béziers and US Dax in 2006, Albi returned to the elite of French rugby for the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 seasons. But, while Top 14 survival for the 2008-2009 season seemed certain, the DNACG demoted the club to Pro-D2 because of financial mismanagements.
In 2009, SCA became the first team in Top 14 history to bounce back to the division only a year after dropping down. But, the Albi outfit could not extend its stay in Top 14 as it finished last in the points table.
The arrival of Henry Broncan marked the beginning of a new era for SCA in 2010. The former SU Agen coach, nicknamed the ‘’Magician of Gers’’, inherited the position of Éric Béchu, who was at the club for a decade. After taking charge, Broncan emphasized the improvement of the youth system, and it paid dividends.
Broncan guided the team to the Pro-D2 final in his very first season. But, Bordeaux-Bègles beat SCA in the final. A route to the Top 14 was still open, but a playoff defeat also slammed that door shut.
Henry Broncan left SCA in 2014 to become the coach of Tarbes Pyrénées Rugby. Former CA Brive coach Ugo Mola stepped into Broncan’s shoes and took SCA to the brink of a Top 14 return. But again, SCA’s brilliant season fell short of the ultimate prize as the club was eliminated from the semis.
Once Stade Toulousain came calling, Ugo Mola left Sporting Club Albigeois to occupy the vacancy left by Guy Noves in Toulouse. After Mola’s departure, the club fell into a free-fall that plunged it into the Fédérale 1. Under the current coach, Mathieu Bonello, the club is trying to work its way back to the top.
The club also inaugurated its Maurice Rigaud stadium in 1926, the same year it won the Pyrenees championship. However, the Black and Yellows no longer play their home games in that venue. Instead, SCA currently hosts its home crowd in the 11,500-seater Le Stadium municipal d’Albi.