Stade Olympique de Chambéry Rugby
Stade Olympique de Chambéry Rugby Highlights and History.
Stade Olympique de Chambéry Rugby was born during the fiery days of the World War II. In 1943, the Vichy ordered the sports clubs in Chambéry to merge. Hence, the club known to us as SOC Rugby today was formed. Its original name was Stade Olympique Chambérien.
Since the rugby teams of Chambéry came together to form Stade Olympique de Chambéry, discussing the history of the club would be incomplete without revisiting the history of rugby in Chambéry.
History of rugby in Chambéry
Rugby began in Chambéry in 1896 with the high school team under the name of Athletic Sport of the High School of Chambéry or SALC. In 1898 high school students created the Union sportive chambérienne (USC), which was open for all to join. In 1917, the club merged with the Amicale Sportive and took on the name Club Sportif Chambérien (CSC).
Road to first division
Stade Olympique de Chambéry had its first shot at success when it made it to the final of the Honneur division in 1947. A defeat at the hands of FC Auch denied the club glory and the opportunity to make a leap to the upper division.
The club won the French second division twice between 1954 and 1956. After making its first-division debut in 1956, SOC stayed in the division for no less than 30 years. In its early years in the first division, Chambéry became a stronghold of French rugby.
Stade Olympique de Chambéry first won the Challenge de l’Espérance in 1960. En route to the quarter-finals, the Yellow and Blacks eliminated FC Lourdes, future champions of France.
The following year, Chambéry finished at the top of its pool and third at the national level in the Championship with twelve wins, a draw, and a defeat and then reached the semifinals under the leadership of its talismanic captain Georges Cassagneau.
US Dax put an end to SOC’s remarkable run in the semifinals. Dax won the match 11-5 against Chambéry, which came on the back of a dominating 19-3 win against SC Mazamet. The same year, Stade Olympique de Chambéry lost its title in the Challenge de l’Espérance, beaten in the final by Graulhet.
Once the ’70s rolled in, Stade Olympique de Chambéry’s reputation as a formidable top division slowly started to wane away. In 1973, Chambéry was dropped into the Group B of the French top division. The decline in the club’s performance led to missing out on a Challenge Yves du Manoir invitation. SOC had participated in each of the previous 12 editions of the competition.
Fédération Française de Rugby’s decision to trim the elite division to 40 teams from 75 nearly kicked Chambéry out of the top tier. It was next in line to Castres Olympique, which was the last club to get the ax.
In 1980, Stade Olympique de Chambéry won the Group B France championship beating Albi 21-18 in the semis and Angoulême 21-9 in the final. The title win granted Chambéry reentry to Group A, but it immediately dropped back after losing seventeen games in the season.
Stade Olympique de Chambéry then spent five seasons in Group B until 1986, when it went down to the second division. In a toss-up with Lyon OU on the last day, Chambéry was relegated because of a narrow defeat at Châteaurenard 16-12.
The 1990s and 2000s
The club returned to the first division Group B for one season in 1990. It failed to survive more than a season after a 21-20 home defeat against Albi 21-20 on the final day sealed its fate. SOC returned to the second division for the next two years.
Then it went back to group B2 in 1993 despite losing the semifinal against Céret. Chambéry then remained in Group B until 1998, when it went down to the second division, the fourth hierarchical level of French rugby.
It earned a promotion the following year before financial discrepancies condemned the club to an administrative relegation. SOC returned immediately to the playoffs in 2007 but was relegated again in 2008. It went up a year in 2010 before spending three consecutive seasons in Fédérale 2.
The modern era
In 2013, the club returned to Fédérale 1 after clinching the Fédérale 2 trophy. Three years later, the club enjoyed more success when its players lifted the Jean Prat trophy. The Chambériens missed out twice on Pro D2 promotion when it lost the semifinal to Pays d’Aix RC in 2015 and the playoff final against USON Nevers in 2017.