Challenge Yves du Manoir


July 3, 2022

The Yves du Manoir challenge is a rugby union competition between French clubs, created on September 21, 1931 by the Racing Club de France. The record for titles is held by RC Narbonne, which has nine.

Origin of the name

This challenge bears the name of Yves du Manoir, former rugby player of the Racing Club de France, international and captain of the French team, who died in a plane crash in January 1928, at the age of 23.


Rugby background

After the Belle Époque (1890-1914) and the First World War during which the French Rugby Championship was interrupted between 1914 and 1919, replaced by the Espérance Cup, French rugby got organized. The French Rugby Federation (F.F.R.) was founded on May 13, 1919, taking over from the rugby committee of the Union of French Athletic Sports Societies (U.S.F.S.A.). It adopted the name of the French Rugby Federation on October 11, 1920, the day after the French victory at Colombes in the rematch of the final which saw the Californians, a nickname given to the American team composed mainly of students from Californian universities, win the Olympic title. Stade Toulousain experienced its first period of domination of French rugby by winning five French championship titles in six years, from 1922 to 1927. It was then the reign of the "Red Virgin", as the red and black club was nicknamed. following their 1912 title in which the team remained undefeated for the entire season. USA Perpignan won the championship twice in 1921 and 1925. Off the pitch, the 1920s and 30s were crisis years for the championship. The title of champion of France arouses greed and leads to excesses: violence on the pitch where matches often get bogged down in endless trench warfare (the ball rarely leaves the feet of the forwards, the three-quarter wing sometimes ending matches without having touched a single ball) and accusations of brown amateurism punctuate the seasons more and more often. In December 1930, some clubs denounce the disguised professionalism practiced by certain teams where a boss can pay his players in his company. Quillan is thus the first club in France, and probably in the world, to adopt professionalism, 70 years before its official recognition by the Board. The factitious recruitment of stars from Perpignan and elsewhere by Jean Bourrel, king of hats, brought glory to the club in a town of three thousand inhabitants: we will find Quillan in the final of the championship three years in a row (1928, 1929 , 1930) and champion in 1929. He precipitated French rugby into the abyss: indeed, the war which opposed the Haute Vallée club to Perpignan and Lézignan was one of the major causes of the rupture of relations decided by the British in 1931. Ten clubs seceded and founded the French Amateur Rugby Union (U.F.R.A.) in December 1930, which prided itself on remaining faithful to the ideals of fair play and amateur rugby, and asked the French Federation to restore order in her house. Seven of them are former champions of France, but they are excluded from the championship. This exclusion caused the secession of 14 clubs in total: Aviron bayonnais, Biarritz Olympique, Stade Bordelais, AS Carcassonne (semi-finalist 1930), FC Grenoble, SAU Limoges, FC Lyon, Stade Nantes, Section paloise (semi-finalist 1930), US Perpignan, Stade Français and Stade Toulousain which were joined in January 1931 by a new club, US Narbonne, and Stadoceste Tarbais, quarter-finalists in 1930. Rugby in France, at that time, was nothing more than a vast battlefield where a few industrialists eager to assert their power bought players and demoralized the discipline.

Creation of the competition