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Rugby football / Los rugbís

In the 1890s, Joseph Anglade, félibre (writer of amusing stories in the Occitan language) and academic (specialized in the medieval Occitan language), brought back an odd and magical leather and oval-shaped object from Toulouse: a rugby ball. At first played among friends on Sunday afternoons at the end of a picnic, the game became a full-fledged sport and the Football-Club de Lézignan was created in 1907 (here, « anar al fòbal » means “going to the rugby match”!). The sport then became popular in the surrounding villages. The FCL played the final of the French championship in 1929 against Quillan (and lost the match). After the rugby à XIII (rugby league) game saw the light of day in 1934, the game was banned by the Vichy government, then resurfaced after the Liberation. From then on, both disciplines of the game are played in France: you are either quinziste (from quinze, fifteen) or treiziste (from treize, thirteen) with lively and lengthy discussions taking place at every encounter!

The Football Club de Lézignan XIII (lien has been honoured with lots of magical moments these past few years, winning the French championships four times in a row from 2008 to 2011 and bringing home the Lord Derby cup in 2010 and 2011. In the surrounding villages, rugby à XIII is also very popular: Ferrals, Ornaisons, Homps, Val de Dagne, etc.

Many quinzistes (Rugby Union players), with heavyweight representatives in the neighbouring clubs AS Béziers and Racing Club de Narbonne, play in major regional events in the Languedoc and often win national titles: Bassin Sud Minervois, Névian-Canet, AOC (Ouveillan-Cuxac), St-André-Bizanet, Tauch-Corbières (Tuchan-Durban), etc.

Lo dimenge e los jorns de fèsta
Anam totis a l’estadium
Anam véser aquelas bèstias
Que corrisson darrièr lo balon
Viva lo fòbal, es aquò que nos cal !
Aquí almens tot lo monde remena
Viva lo fòbal, es aquò que nos cal !
Aquí almens i a un pauc de rambalh
Las nasicas son esclafadas
Los dentièrs son degobilhats
Las aurelhas son rosegadas
Fa pas res ! Avèm ganhat !

On Sundays and on holidays, we all go down to the stadium to watch those hefty players running around in pursuit of the ball. Rugby is what we need: here at least, there is movement and excitement.