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Racing Métro 92 (Rugby club, Hauts-de-Seine, France)

Last modified: 2016-11-13 by ivan sache
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Flags of Racing Métro 92, left, official flag, right, supporter's flag - Images by Ivan Sache, 11 December 2011

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Presentation of Racing Métro 92

The rugby club Racing Métro 92 (website) was founded in 2001 as Métro Racing, the merger of the Union Sportive Métropolitaine des Transports (US Métro) and of the Racing Club de France. In 2005, the General Council of Hauts-de-Seine (Department No. 92) decided to patron the club, which was renamed Racing Métro 92. The next year, Jacky Lorenzetti, founder and president of the Foncia real estate group, purchased most of the club's assets and increased its budget from 2 to 10 millions euros per year.
Defeated in 2008 in the final of the Second League (Pro D2) by Mont-de- Marsan, the Racing Métro 92 won the Second League the next year and joined the First League (Top 14). In 2011, the club ranked second after the round robin and was defeated in the semi-final by Montpellier (25-26).

The Racing Club was founded in 1882 as an athletics club, renamed Racing Club de France in 1885 (for the sake of differentiation from the Belgian Racing Club). The club progressively added new sections: in 2006, it had 20,000 members split into 17 sections.
The rugby section was created in 1890. On 20 March 1892, the Racing won the first French "championship" (played by only two teams), defeating the Stade Français (4-3) in a match refereed by Baron Pierre de Coubertin. The captain of the winning team was Franz Reichel (1871-1932), a pioneer of French rugby (also a runner, hurdler, journalist...) and a great defender of amateur and youth sports. The Stade Français took its revenge the next year, winning (7-3) the championship (then played by five teams). The Racing won two more early championships in 1900 and 1902.
In 1931, the Racing founded the Yves du Manoir Challenge, named for one of the club's players killed in 1928 in a plane accident. The Challenge was the best illustration of the "Racing spirit", promoting rugby as a gentlemen's sports played by amateurs and struggling against violence on stadiums. However, the Racing never won "its" Challenge, while its rival, the Stade Français, won it in 1999. The Racing won the French championship in 1959, defeating Mont-de- Marsan (8-3). The match was refereed by Albert Ferrasse (1917-2011), subsequently a legendary and controversial President of the Rugby French Federation (1968-1991).
The next great success of the Racing happened only in 1990, when the club won the French championship, defeating Agen (22-12). The most famous members of the team were Franck Mesnel, Jean-Baptiste Lafond, Philippe Guillard, Laurent Bénézech and Éric Blanc. At the time, the Racingmen, often nicknamed "The Parisians", decided that rugby was too serious to be played by serious men and attempted to shake the traditions, inventing the "show-bizz" attitude (photos). During the final lost in 1987, the players all wore pink bow ties, offering one of them to President of the Republic François Mitterrand; in 1990, the pink bow ties reappeared, while a team's member, dressed as a barman, offered champagne to his teammates during the half-time break. The Racingmen often played in pink or wore wigs, strongly questioning the masculine, if not homophobic atmosphere of traditional French rugby. They were probably among the first in France to paint their face in black after a black member of the team had experienced racist insults, contributing to the issue of the sports relations with South Africa.
The "show-bizz" attitude, the last avatar of the "Racing spirit" not really enjoyed by the traditionalists, vanished when the club turned into a "serious" professional club (but the traditionalists did not enjoy the move to professional rugby, either).

The US Métro (website) is a sports club, today with 4,700 members split into 36 sections), founded on 11 March 1928, as the Union Sportive des Métropolitains (USM), by 129 employees of the Compagnie du Chemin de Fer Métropolitain de Paris. "Chemin de Fer Métropolitain" is the full name, long forgotten, of the métro, that is the subway.
Renamed Union Sportive du Métropolitain, and, later, Union Sportive Métropolitaine, the USM had 4,112 members in 1937.
On 17 March 1945, the USM merged with the Club Sportif des Transports Métros to form the Union Sportive Métropolitaine des Transports (USMT). The club was awarded in 1948 the honorific title of "best French sports club". Now open to all, the US Métro has an agreement with the the RATP (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens, the agency in charge of public transportation in Paris), which owns most of the club's sports grounds.

Ivan Sache, 11 December 2011

Flag of Racing Métro 92

The official flag of Racing Métro 92 (photo, 28 August 2009; is horizontally divided light blue (four stripes) - white (three stripes), with the club's emblem in the middle.
The shield has nine stripes (five light blue, four white). "RACING / METRO / 92" is written in black letters on the third-sixth stripes while "Depuis 1882" (since 1882) is written in blue letters on the eighth stripe.
However, the club's supporters clearly prefer the undefaced flag, as can be seen on several photos and TV reports.

The flag is the "banner of arms" of the Racing Club de France, whose shield reproduces the player's jersey. The ciel et blanc (celestial and white) colors are the original colors of the club. Georges de Saint-Clair, a less-known pioneer of sports, and, specially, of athletics in France (history), was appointed General Secretary of the club in 1884; born from a Scottish mother, he practiced different sports in England and brought significant innovations to the emerging French sports structures. Saint-Clair transformed the Racing Club, then a loose association of merry students who enjoyed running dressed as jockeys, into a serious sports club; he banned the pseudonyms (jockey and even race horse's names) and the fanciful costumes, imposing a sober, unique livery to the club. The sources do not agree on the origin of the celestial and white colors, either the colors of Greece (probably via Baron de Coubertin, a close friend of Saint-Clair) or the colors of the Cambridge University (at the time, most French sports club were modeled on English clubs, therefore the use of "Racing" or "Sporting" in their names).

Ivan Sache, 11 December 2011