Sunday, September 18, 2011

Argentina Players in France - Racing Metro

Paris based Racing Métro 92 has only been back in the Top 14 for two seasons but since returning it has quickly established itself as one of the best clubs in France. The club based in suburban Paris has a history dating back to 1882 but the club as it it known by today was created only in 2001 following the union of Racing Club de France and US Métro. The third part of the name of the club, "92", refers to the number of Hauts-de-Seine in the département of Île-de-France, bordering Paris to the west, where they play, and whose council gives financial backing to the club. Racing Metro 92 has been playing in the Top 14 since the 2009-2010 season after winning promotion from the Pro d2 as Second Division Champions in 2008–09.

Racing Métro 92´s home venue is the Stade Yves-du-Manoir stadium in Colombes, which is also a venue that was used by France for international rugby matches for several decades. The venue is dated and small, with a capacity of under 15,000 which has prompted the club to think big and it is to have a new 32,000 seat stadium in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, near La Défense. The new stadium is to go by the name of Arena 92 and is planned to open in 2014. The extent of the progress made by the club can be seen in its budget, which at € 22.4 million is the third highest in France and is up by €3.46 million in comparison to last season. It is also higher than that of Stade Français who have long been considered inovators and have regularly packed France´s largest stadium, the Stade de France for Top 14 fixtures. Racing Métro 92 are succeeding in replicating their Parisian rivals and are now also utilizing the 80,000 seat venue for matches. Racing Métro´s round 22 fixture vs Toulouse on March 26th, 2011 was moved to the Stade de France and the public responded positively with 76,353 people attending the match.

The club has been French champion on five occassions, in 1892, 1900, 1902, 1959 and 1990 and was also a runner-up on six occasions in its history. It spent a long time in the second division and has twice won promotion back to the top table with titles in 1998 and 2009. The club has importnaly been able to take its opportunity since gaining promotion back to the Top 14 in 2009 to recruit a number of big match players and be highly competitive. In its two seasons back in the Top 14, Racing-Métro has made the Semi Finals on both occassions and came within an inch of making the 2011 final only for Argentine winger, Martín Bustos Moyano to kick a late penalty to win the match for Montpellier. The club is likely to be a titlite contender again this season and has recruited well with Guillaume Boussès joining from Stade Français, Sébastien Descons from Pau, Alexandre Dumoulin from Bourgoin, Fabrice Estebanez from Brive and Gaetan Germain from Bourgoin.

Racing Métro is home to two players in France´s squad currently competing in New Zealand at Rugby World Cup 2011. Veteran secondrower Lionel Nallet has been at the club since it won promotion and will ber joined by Fabrice Estebanez from Brive this season. The club is also the home of French legend Sebastien Chabal and wing Benjamin Fall who both missed out on World Cup selection. The club has three Pumas but none are involved in Rugby World Cup 2011. Flyhalf Juan Martín Hernández missed the tournemant after failing to recover from ligament damage in his knee while backrower Alvaro Galindo had tro be replaced as he suffered a biceps injury two weeks before the start of the tournament. Tighthead prop Juan Orlandi was not selected for the tournament as coach Santiago Phelan opted to select Martín Scelzo, Juan Figallo and Maximilano Bustos for the tighthead position. Racing has two Italians are at the World Cup in winger Mirco Bergamasco and prop Andrea Lo Cicero and also has South African fullback François Steyn. There is also secondrower Santiago Dellapé who is an Italian international but retired from international rugby earlier in the year. He is from Argentina but played for Italy.

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