Union Sportive Dacquoise
Stade Maurice Boyau
US Dax: Match Fixing and Other Stories From its Past
US Dax History and Highlights.
Union Sportive Dacquoise, better known as US Dax, has been through many historical moments throughout its more-than-a-century-long history. It came close to becoming the champions of France on several occasions, but agonizingly, the club is yet to showcase a Bouclier de Brennus in its trophy cabinet. Since the late ’50s, the club has called the Maurice Boyau Stadium its home.
Founding and Early Years
At the dawn of the twentieth century, 1904 to be precise, Vélo Club Dacquois and Stade Dacquois merged and formed a new multisports club, Union Sportive Dacquoise. The club won its first title when it became the Basque Coast champions in 1912, with several future internationals in its squad; Abel Guichemerre, Maurice Boyau, and Maurice Birabe.
Several decades later, US Dax immortalized the memory of Maurice Boyau by naming its home ground after him. Besides his legacy as a player, Boyau is also celebrated as a World War hero. He had taken down 21 enemy observation balloons and 14 aircraft during World War I.
Leaving the FFR
Around September 1931, the team left the French Rugby Federation (FFR) to join the French Amateur Rugby Union, alongside a group of dissident clubs. But, it came back to the FFR only a year later.
Match Fixing Accusations
The 1932/33 season marked a dark chapter in the history of US Dax. Some Dax players, including club captain Didier Castex, received lifetime bans because of match-fixing. Many found the verdict harsh as the evidence was mostly anecdotal. It was theorized at that time that the FFR punished US Dax for its French Amateur Rugby Union rebellion. At the end of that season, they got relegated to the Honneur division.
US Dax had been in and out of the Elite division before World War II began. The club went through some significant changes after the war. One of those was the introduction of red and white checkered jerseys instead of plain red and white.
Return to First Division
US Dax played again in the top division from the 1946-1947 season and returned to the finals in 1949. On top of that, the club’s junior team won back-to-back Frantz-Reichel Cups in 1949 and 1950. Even though the club’s senior team never managed to do it, US Dax juniors have won the most prestigious trophy in their age division.
In 1955, a year after the club’s golden jubilee, the club qualified for the knockout stages of the French championship. In the year after, the club made even further progress. US Dax was one of the finalists of the French first division in 1956. But, it suffered a humiliating 20-0 defeat against a Jean Prat-inspired FC Lourdes in the final. It was still a landmark moment for US Dax since it was its first final appearance, but the fans will not be eager to look back on it.
After an excellent season opener, US Dax emerged as one of the favorites for the title. After dismissing Stade Toulouse and US Tyrosse at the beginning of the finals, they met FC Lourdes in the semi-finals. Despite the absence of several key players, US Dax raced to a comfortable lead. The Lourdais reacted nevertheless, changing the course of the match a few minutes from the end of the game; they reached the final, which they won soon after.
A Pattern Emerges
Between 1958 to 1973, this was a common narrative for US Dax. It had great starts to its season and progressed deep into the first division. It reached as far as the final on four occasions, but it returned empty-handed every time. The club did manage to win three Challenge Yves du Manoir titles, however, within this period.
After 1973, US Dax slowly started to lose its prominence. At one point, making the quarterfinals was almost guaranteed for them. That did not appear to be the case anymore. Premature exits from the championship became common. In 1982, the team won its fifth Challenge Challenge Yves du Manoir. To date, it’s the last top division trophy the club has won.
Rebuilding the Club
Post-1982, the club prioritized a youth-based rebuild. So, it was no longer a title contender. In 1985/86, US Dax missed the top-division finals for the first time since 1953. In 1988, it made it to another Challenge final, but it could not get the better of Stade Toulouse.
US Dax players might have felt a sense of déjà vu when AS Montferrand knocked them out of the championship quarters in 1990. The same team had ended US Dax’s Challenge ambitions only a few months earlier. It was also a quarterfinal match.
In the next few years, the possibility of becoming French champions flirted with US Dax again. But, it could not make it past the semis. It also went on some European adventures, but a title never seemed likely.
The Fall to the Amateur Divisions
Between 1997 to 2002, the club slipped further down the point table. Eventually, Top 16 survival could not be taken for granted anymore. In 2002, the club got relegated to Pro D2. US Dax came back briefly in the top flight between 2007 to 2009. But afterward, the club endured a difficult phase at the Pro D2. In 2018, the club dropped to amateur levels.
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