Sporting Olympique Avignon

Sporting Olympique Avignon also known as Avignon XIII or SO Avignon are a semi-professional rugby league team based in Avignon in the south of France. They currently play in the Elite One Championship. The club was formed in 1916 and they enjoyed their best spell during the 1950s when they lifted the Lord Derby Cup twice and reached two other finals as well as being runners up in the French rugby league championship. The club plays its home matches at the Parc des Sports (Avignon). The current head coach is their former player and ex French international Renaud Guigue

SO Avignon
Club information
Full nameSporting Olympique Avignon
Founded1916; 108 years ago (1916)
WebsiteOfficial Site
Current details
ChairmanEric Bissiere
CoachRenaud Guigue
ManagerBernard Imbert
CompetitionElite One Championship
Home colours

History edit

On March 16, 1916 Sporting Olympique Avignon were formed as a rugby and athletics club by Viscount du Tertre and Marius Bremond who would be the club's first president and vice president respectively. After the war and when Rugby League could be played again in France following the Vichy government's banning of the game, SO Avignon decided to join Rugby League under the leadership of head coach and captain Francois Riviere. It was during the 1950s that the club would have its most successful period, they reached their first French rugby league championship final in 1957 while also lifting the Lord Derby Cup in 1955 and 1956 and being runner up in 1958 and 59, during this time they played in front of crowds of more than 10,000 and were well known for playing local youth players.

Since their boom years the club has experienced both highs and lows. They won the Lord Derby Cup in 1982 and again 1989. The youth team also lifted the cup in 1982 and in 1995 they completed a league and cup double under coaches Gerard Faure and Frederic Bissiere. It was during this time that their main stand at their ground caught fire as the club struggled both on and off the field, but thanks to Bernard Gayraud the club survived. In 1998 following their relegation to the Elite Two Championship they caused a major surprise by once again reaching the Lord Derby Cup final but lost to AS Saint-Estève.

In November 2001 the club's president Jean-René Laval had no option but to put the club into liquidation due to its debts, but the club didn't die and under Roger Secula and Christophe Jouffret Avignon was reformed and were accepted into the National Division 2 Regional League, which is the 4th tier. After 2 seasons they won promotion to the National Division 1 League where they stayed for another 2 seasons before being relegated back to the 4th tier. In 2006 they were promoted back to National Division 1. During 2008 the club spent time at the Parc des Sports while their own ground was being refurbished and artificial turf laid. Since their return to the Elite One Championship the club have reached the semi-finals of the play-offs in 2011 and in 2013 they once again won the Lord Derby Cup beating Limoux Grizzlies 38-37[1]

Colours and Badge edit

SO Avignon play in blue and white hooped shirts with white shorts. The club adopted the Bison, nickname and emblem, during the late 1990s as the trend for British Rugby League clubs at that time was to adopt a moniker. The emblem was so obviously heavily modeled from the Buffalo Sabres NHL team's logo at the time. The Bison is a reference to the famous Bison of Vaucluse which was the nickname given to their former player André Savonne a winger with the club during the 1950s.

Stadium edit

Stade Saint Ruf or to give it its full name Stade Pierre Bazet St Ruf has been the only ground that SO Avignon have used apart from a brief spell in 2008 when they used the Parc des Sports across town. During their heyday in the 1950s more than 10,000 spectators would crowd together along the wooden benches and grassy bank. Adjacent to the ground there used to be a local brewery but that has long gone and has been replaced by a bypass. A new stand was built after a fire destroyed the original wooden stand. In 2008 an artificial pitch was laid. The main stand is now right up to the pitch and has VIP and press facilities along with a bar and a club shop. All the seats are undercover.[2] The club currently use Parc des Sports (Avignon) where it plays its home matches.

Players edit

Current squad edit

Squad for 2021-22 Season[3]

Avignon Elite 1 Squad




Standoffs (Five-eighths)




Second rowers

Locks (Loose forwards)

Internationals edit

Below is a list of every player to have been capped while at SO Avignon (All France)

Honours edit

  • Elite One Championship (1) 2017-18
  • Lord Derby Cup (5): 1954-55, 1955–56, 1981–82, 1988–89, 2012–13

External links edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Historique - Sporting Olympique Avignon XIII". Archived from the original on 23 February 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  2. ^[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Avignon Rugby league squad". Treize Mondial.