Union Bordeaux Begles: Merger Details and Top 14 Results
Union Bordeaux Begles Merger, History and Highlights.
Union Bordeaux Begles are relatively newcomers in the landscape of French union rugby. The club only entered the scene in 2006 but have already become top-flight regulars. Even though they don’t have any honors to their names yet, they have come close to winning silverware in recent years.
In the early days of French rugby, Stade Bordelais were the definitive Bordeaux side. They had won seven French championships by 1911. But they sunk into oblivion afterward, and Bordeaux had no formidable representative in the French national rugby scene for a long time.
Before World War I, the CA Béglais, another Bordeaux rugby side, didn’t do very well. They finally won two French championships in 1969 and 1991, and in 1995, they took part in the first European Rugby Cup.
But that’s where the rosy days ended for them. By 2002, CA Béglais were playing Pro D2 rugby. They then suffered relegation to Fédérale 1, the top tier of the amateur French union rugby league later. Stade Bordelais, the forgone heavy hitters of French rugby, had also dropped to amateur levels.
In 2005, the hierarchies of both clubs came up with a merger plan, even though fans of both clubs were fiercely against it. But the players and club officials pushed for the merger, knowing it gave Bordeaux a better chance at breaking into the Top 14. Also, it presented a superior commercial appeal to sponsors. Hence, Union Stade Bordelais-C.A.Bordeaux-Bègles Gironde were born in 2006.
During the merger, Stade Bordelais were playing in Pro D2. So, the new club replaced Bordelais in the competition. For training and home ground, they took over CA Béglais’s facilities.
Historically, the clubs were arch-rivals. So, the new club hierarchy recognized the need to unite the fanbases.
So, the club arranged a 3-day event to bring together 25,000 rugby fans in Bordeaux and 100 companies to draw support for a unified Bordeaux club. The event was a huge success, and the animosity between Stade Bordelais and CA Béglais fans was mostly resolved.
Union Stade Bordelais-C.A. Bordeaux-Bègles Gironde or USBCABBG is not the easiest name to pronounce. So, the club took on a simpler name in 2008; Union Bordeaux Begles.
In the 2010-11 Pro D2 season, the Union Bordeaux Begles finished fifth and secured a playoff spot for Top 14 qualification. Their first challenge was to beat Grenoble in the semis. After a remarkable 19-12 win, they stood only one win away from the promised land of Top 14.
UBB faced SC Albie in the playoff final at Stade Armandie. Bordeaux raced to a 21-14 win and confirmed a spot in the next year’s Top 14. It had taken the club only six years since their formation to become a top-flight rugby club.
From 2011 to 2015, the Bordeaux outfit cemented their place in the division with regular midtable finishes. In 2015, UBB finished seventh and made it to the European Rugby Champions Cup playoffs. The team’s consistency attracted foreign investment to the club. A group of Hong Kong investors acquired 10% of UBB following their successful 2014/2015 Top 14 campaign.
Bordeaux edged past Gloucester in a nail-biting playoff that ended 23-22. The win got UBB tickets to the most prestigious European rugby competition for the first time. They have played in the tournament several times now. In 2019/20, they progressed to the last four of the competition.
The Girondists are also showing signs of gradual improvement in Top14. In the 2019/20 season, they occupied the top spot after 17 rounds of matches. Unfortunately, the French Rugby Federation called off the league because of the pandemic.
Unlike their Top 14 peers, Union Bordeaux Begles don’t have a long history to look back to. But, they have already made a great impression with their youthful squad and fighting mentality. The Bordeaux side are blossoming into something special and soon they might get their first taste of silverware.