Whatever your reason for moving house to France, if you’re a rugby fan, you will be glad of one thing: the French are as passionate about their sport as we are.
Your removals to France need make no difference to the amount or the quality of rugby you get to see and/or play; as week in, week out, up and down the country, top class teams featuring famous names turn out to do battle. In this article we'll be taking an impartial look at France's Top 14 rugby clubs.
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Here we take a look at the top French rugby teams in the order in which they stand at the time of writing.
35 Rue du Clos Four,
If you’re moving to Auvergne, you are moving to the heart of French rugby. ASM Clermont Auvergne have been plying their trade since 1911, contesting the French Championship on numerous occasions, before finally winning the trophy in 2012. Fielding such great names as Julien Bonnaire, Nathan Hines and the commentators favourite, Aurelien Rougerie among so many others, you are guaranteed a great day’s entertainment.
Avenue de la République,
The prospect of moving to Toulon is surely enough to set any rugby nut’s heart racing. With Delon Armitage at full back, the unpredictable but often brilliant Freddy Michalak at scrum half, and a certain Jonny Wilkinson at fly, your weekends at home will be something to savour. The town goes rugby crazy on match days as the fully enclosed 14,700 seat Stade Mayol reverberates to the chant of the Pilou Pilou.
114 Rue des Troènes,
With arguably one of the greatest rugby teams in Europe on your doorstep, moving to Toulouse would be a dream come true for any rugby fan. With the likes of Poitrenaud, Picamoles and Dusautoir, not to mention Clerc and Beauxis, satisfaction is virtually assured. Add the Mediterranean climate and the fabulous shopping and it shouldn’t be too great a hardship for any rugby widow either.
205 Avenue Charles de Gaulle
Moving to Castres in the south of France will bring you into (almost) direct contact with some of the greatest names in world rugby. Scotland's Ritchie Gray, New Zealand's Danny Kirkpatrick, and our own Marcel Garvey, are just a few of the famous international names playing alongside some true home-grown talent. The team have recently been crowned 2013 Champions of France with a win over European champions Toulon.
500 Avenue de Vanières,
Moving to Montpellier, the capital of the Languedoc-Roussillon will put you within a ticket and a short drive of Montpellier Hérault Rugby. Currently 5th in the table their squad boasts such formidable characters as Trinh-Duc, Chobet and Sébastien Petit and at 1m 87 and 117kg, there's nothing "small" about him. With regular appearances in the Heineken Cup, the Amlin Challenge Cup, and the Shield, silverware is never too far away.
11, Avenue Paul Langevin
92350 Le Plessis-Robinson, Paris
Irish and Welsh eyes will be smiling in Paris next season as the legend that is Ronan O’Gara has agreed to assist with the coaching at Racing Metro. If you are moving to Paris, you can catch him and other famous names like Jamie Roberts, Dan Lydiate and maybe even "the caveman" Sebastien Chabal as they work their magic for France’s capital city.
11 Allée Aimé Giral
Kit yourselves out in red and gold and you’re sure to fit in just fine if you are moving to Perpignan. At, or near the top of the French Championship for many years, their 14,593-seater stadium is rarely at much less than capacity. Since their Top 14 triumph in 2008/9 they have continued to perform well, making a number of appearances in the Heineken Cup. Look out for Luke Narraway, ex of Gloucester at No. 8, and Richard Haughton on the wing.
Rond point St Léon
Featuring a raft of imported talent from as far afield as Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, Bayonne’s team sheet reads more like an address to the commonwealth than a weekly work roster. Moving to Bayonne you’ll be treated to the rugby stylings of players such as Vaka Saïmoni, Neemia Tialata, Dewald Senekal, Gert Muller, not to mention the former Crusaders and Blues fly half Stephen Brett.
Rue Cino del Duca
If you are moving to Biarritz, you can look forward to the rugby viewing pleasure that is Biarritz Olympique. The BOPB have competed in the Top 14 and the Heineken Cup and in 2011-12, they won the Amlin Challenge Cup, beating Jonny Wilkinson’s Toulon in an 18-21 nail biter. The squad features a number of internationals including American, winger Takudzwa Ngwenya.
Rue Albert Reynier
If you are moving to Grenoble, you’ll be in good company as former England back Olly Barkley is set to join them from Parisian side Racing Metro. The side already features some great internationals including Daniel Kilioni of Tonga, Roland Bernard of South Africa and Australia's Dayna Edwards. Relative newcomers to the Top 14, they recently beat champions Toulouse 15-6 in a dramatic home win.
Avenue du Général Sarrail
If you’re moving to Paris and love rugby, prepare to wear pink. Rugby strips don’t come much pinker than that worn by Stade Francais in 2010. It was then president Max Guazzini’s idea to kit his team out in eye-popping pink and since then the players have got used to wearing some pretty amazing Kenzo designed shirts in all sorts of colours. One standard motif however, whatever the colour, is the three bolts of lightning.
25 rue Delphin Loche
Moving to Bègles puts you in line for some great local rugby. Union Bordeaux-Begles to give them their full title have been a Super 14 club since their promotion at the end of 2010/11. Their newfound status amongst the big boys of French rugby has seen them attract some top class players from around the world including Heinie Adams from South Africa, Rafaël Carballo of Argentina and Australia’s Connor Blair.
1, Rue Pierre de Coubertin
Rugby fans moving to Lot-et-Garonne in the lush south west of France and those moving to Agen in particular are in for a real treat. The Lot Valley and infact the entire south west of France, is a hot bed for rugby union and fans of SU Agen follow the club avidly. Promoted to the French Top 14 in 2010, their games are always hotly contested and make for a very entertaining afternoon.
Mont de Marsan
270 Avenue du Stade,
Another recently promoted side, Mont de Marsan feature a number of quality internationals in their predominantly French line up. Among them are Canada’s Luke Tait, at Lock and Australia’s Ben Coutts at Prop. In the past they have fielded French rugby legend Thomas Castaignède and the Fijian ex-Tiger Waisale Serevi. With this kind of pedigree, it surely will not be too long before we see a protégé of Dal Maso and Prosper playing for Les Bleus.
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