Stade Français – An Unusual Rugby Team
Stade Français Club Athlétique des Sports Généraux is a rugby union club based in Paris playing in the Top 14 league which features the best teams in France.
Founded in 1883, Stade Français was one of the strongest teams in the country and won multiple French championships. However it then went through a period of decline until 1992 when the club was bought by entrepreneur, Max Guazzini, whilst sitting in the third division. Just six years later they won their first French Championship since 1908 and have gone on to become one of the most successful and popular clubs of the twenty-first century.
Throughout Stade Français’ renaissance the club has been associated with the eccentric spirit of its owner. Designed to make the match experience more interesting, he introduced a number of initiatives including female cheerleaders, fireworks after evening games, a nude calendar featuring players and adopting Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’ as their official anthem.
The most high profile of these changes occurred in 2005 when the club introduced a new pink away jersey. Guazzini wanted to make a stand against the macho reputation of the sport and develop a more inclusive attitude. Despite this, Stade Français has been criticised by traditional supporters of rugby who believe that the sport is becoming more celebrity-driven and money orientated. The heartland of rugby in France is in its southern half (only Stade and Racing Métro 92, also based in Paris, are from the north) and this has only helped to add fuel to the Paris / provinces divide.
The home shirt for the current 2012-2013 season features pink and navy horizontal bands representing the lightning bolts that are part of the club’s logo. The three silver Adidas stripes at the top of the shoulders also alludes to this. There is also the slight hint of the floral design that has been used heavily in past shirts.
The shirt on the left is the Stade Français home shirt from the 2011-2012 season. Its white background marked a change from previous designs however the pink lilies remained. On the right is the limited edition shirt worn during the 2010-2011 season with a pink leopard print motif and lilies.
The home shirt from 2010-2011 was a modest and calm affair with a navy background and flowers seemingly growing from the seams. The lightning bolts seen in the club’s logo are slightly off-centre. On the right is the away shirt from 2009-2010. Blanche de Castille, Queen consort of France and wife of Louis VIII, draws the eyes focus at the front with blue and pink lilies around the head.
This tie-dye effort on the left was shirt used during home matches in the 2008-2009 season. Despite being several decades after the hippy movement, the multi-coloured design takes the appearance of a washing machine mishap. It also features lightning bolts that point towards the wearer’s crotch. The artistic shirt on the right was used during the club’s European campaign in the Heineken Cup and was the first Stade Français design to use Blanche de Castille’s image. Taking inspiration from Andy Warhol and the pop-art movement, its sleeves were described as being metallic but more closely resemble synthetic denim.
Stade Français shirts are designed and manufactured by Adidas.