US Bressane: Struggle to Stay in Pro D2
US Bressane History and Highlights.
Union Sportive Bressane Pays de l’Ain (USBPA), simply known as US Bressane, has a 120-year-long legacy to look back to. But, the club has mostly been playing amateur rugby in recent years. US Bressane climbed back to Pro D2 as recently as 2021/22, but it narrowly missed out on survival and dropped back to the National Rugby Union France Championship.
Founding and Early Years
US Bressane started as a multisports club in 1902. But the rugby section did not begin until 1905. After making it to the second division, it cemented its place in the competition.
1918: First Finals Appearance
It made it to the Coupe de l’Avenir semifinals in 1918. But the club’s excellent run in the competition ended with a demoralizing 7-0 defeat against Stade Toulouse.
1931: One Season in First Division
In 1931, US Bressane got the taste of first division rugby for the first time in its history. The club was a bit lucky to get the promotion as it was one of the clubs that filled up the vacancy left behind by 12 rebel clubs that left to form their own organization. However, Bressane would return to the second division the very next season.
Second Division Champions and First Division Promotion
Just before World War II broke out, US Bressane players lifted the Honor title. But the war put the brakes on the momentum this triumph had generated. The club had to wait four years for rugby to resume and play in the top flight. The Bourg-en-Bresse outfit had a better campaign this time around and made it to the quarterfinals.
In the years following WWII, the club stayed in the top flight. But, most of the time, it remained on the periphery of survival. It had another quarterfinal run in 1954, but even the club’s most optimistic fans did not see that coming. “Struggle to survive” became the recurring theme in US Berrane’s top division campaigns.
Relegations to Second Division
Over the coming years, the club was in and out of the first and second division.
1956: First Relegation
Given the poor performances, it did not come as much of a surprise when the club got relegated in 1956. However, it did not have to wait long to jump back as it raced to its second division title in 1958.
1961: Second Relegation
This time, the club lasted three years in the top division before reappearing in the second division in 1961. Five years later, Bressane players rose to the podium once again as the second division champion.
First Division Struggles and Descent into Third Division
1960s and 1970s
Despite its repeated success in the second division, US Bressane found itself fighting for its life again upon its return to the top division. The signing of France national team star Michel Greffe helped the club stay up in the early seventies. The club also produced a few knockout stage finishes. But a top division title charge never really happened.
1980s and 1990s: Performance Declines
The club became more irregular in the top division around the ’80s and ’90s. The club made its final Elite division appearance in 1991. In 1993, US Bressane got relegated to the second division from Group B. It was the last time we saw the purple shirts of US Bressane in the French rugby union top flight.
The club started to struggle in the second division as well. It moved back and forth between the second and third divisions.
The 2000s: In and Out of Pro D2
US Bressane had to spend nearly a decade before earning Pro D2 status in 2008.
But staying up in the second division has continued to be a challenge for Bressane. The club has played Pro D2 four times since the competition started. It could not escape relegation in any of those campaigns.
US Oyonnax Rivalry
US Bressane has a fierce rivalry with US Oyonnax, which is based on a neighboring commune of Ain. But meetings between the two sides have become rare in recent years since they play in different tiers. US Oyonnax has been enjoying a better run of form in recent years as it regularly features in Top 14 and Pro D2, unlike its Ain rival US Bressane.