Biarritz Olympique was formed in 1913 through a merger of the Biarritz Stade and Biarritz Sporting Club rugby teams. Biarritz made their way to the final of the French championship for the first time in the 1934 season where they were defeated by Bayonne. The following season they claimed their first championship, defeating Perpignan in the final. That decade Biarritz met Perpignan twice again in the final, winning one and losing one. It would not be until 1992 when the club made the final again, and then a decade later, winning the championship in 2002. The club won back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006, and were runners-up in Europe in 2006 and 2010 as well.
The history of the club extends back to the late 19th century. An athletic club, Biarritz Stade (named that, in 1902) opened up a rugby quarter. In 1909, the Biarritz Sporting Club was established. On 26 April 1913, the fusion of the two clubs took place. The new name of the club was Biarritz Olympique and its inaugural president was M. P. Campagne. On 13 May 1934, Biarritz Olympique played in the final of the French premiership; they were however, defeated by Aviron Bayonnais 13 points to 8 at Stade des Ponts Jumeaux in Toulouse in front of 18,000 people. It was the only all-Basque final and is still the final in which the two contenders were separated by the shortest distance (3 miles), outside the all-Parisian finals of the late 19th century.
A year later, Biarritz again found themselves in the final of the national championship, this time against USA Perpignan. They emerged victorious, winning three points to nil, claiming their first ever national championship. The success continued in the latter stages of the decade. In the 1938 championship, Biarritz again met USAP in the final, though this time, the Perpignan club were able to get the win, Biarritz losing 11 points to six. A year later, the two clubs met in the final again, with Biarritz coming out as the better club on the day, winning six points to nil, and claiming the second national championship. But for almost 50 years, Biarritz was not going to feature prominently in the French league.
It was not until the late 1980s that BO, as it is nicknamed, was going to reach the top again. In 1989 Biarritz contested their first Challenge Yves du Manoir final since the 1937 season. However, they were defeated by RC Narbonne 18–12 in the final. In 1992, Biarritz made it to the national final, played at Parc des Princes in Paris. However, Biarritz went down to RC Toulon 19 points to 14. In the 1997–98 season, Biarritz competed in their first European Rugby Cup competition, playing in the European Challenge Cup. Biarritz won three of their six fixtures, and did not make it past the pool stages. The 1998–99 season was similar to the previous, though they were able to win one more of their pool fixtures, but finished third in the pool standings after other French clubs Agen and Brive.
In their third Challenge Cup, Biarritz only lost one pool game and finished first in the standings. However, they were knocked out in the quarter-finals by English club Bristol. As well as the success in the Challenge Cup, in the 1999–00 season, they also won the Coupe de France for the first time since 1937, defeating CA Brive 24–13 in the final. Biarritz also earned qualification for the Heineken Cup.
Celebrations after Biarritz' 2006 championship win over Toulouse.
Biarritz, now playing in the elite European competition, the Heineken Cup, the club had a successful run, finishing at the top of their pool, but were eliminated by Irish team Munster, losing 38–29 in the quarter-finals at Thomond Park. In the 2001–02 Heineken Cup Biarritz did not make the finals, finishing second in their pool, winning two of their six pool fixtures.
In 2002, Biarritz made their way to the domestic final for the first time in a decade. They defeated Agen 25 to 22 at Stade de France in Saint-Denis in front of 78,457. That season they were also runners-up to La Rochelle in the Coupe de France final, losing 21–19. The 2002–03 Heineken Cup was also a success for Biarritz, finishing at the top of their pool standings, they were quarter-finalists, but lost to Leinster 18–13 at Lansdowne Road in Dublin.
The 2003–04 Heineken Cup was a best ever for Biarritz, as they made it to the semi-finals for the first time. They finished at the top of their pool and defeated the Llanelli Scarlets in the quarter-finals. They lost to fellow French club Toulouse 19–11 in the semi-finals. In 2004–05 Biarritz dropped only the one pool game against the London Wasps and finished at the top of their pool. They then defeated Munster in the quarter-finals, to repeat their success of the previous season by making the semi-finals. They however lost to Stade Français, 20–17 at Parc des Princes. More success followed in 2005, where they defeated the Stade Français club 37 points to 34 in the domestic final after a very rugged challenge.
In the year 2006, they made it to the Heineken Cup final were they met Munster. Although they lost their first pool game to the Saracens, Biarritz won the remaining matches and finished at the top of their pool, and defeated English clubs Sale and Bath in the finals to make the final. They lost the compelling game 19–23. They were however able to put the Heinken Cup loss behind them and make it to the final of the 2005–06 Top 14, where they met Toulouse. Biarritz led nine points to six at half time but stormed to victory in the second half, the final score being 40 to 13, making Biarritz back to back winners. In the 2006–07 Heineken Cup Biarritz won all six of their pool games, topping their group with 29 points. They met fellow pool team Northampton Saints at Estadio Anoeta in the quarter-finals, but Northampton upset Biarritz on the day, winning 8–7. In 2010, after finishing atop their pool, Biarritz defeated Ospreys and Munster, both at the Anoeta, and lost a hard-fought Heineken Cup final to Toulouse, 21–19, at Stade de France in Saint-Denis on Saturday, 22 May.
Biarritz play their home matches at the Parc des Sports Aguiléra, which is a multi-use stadium in Biarritz. The stadium is used mostly for rugby and is able to hold around 13,500 people. Apart from Biarritz home games, the ground also hosted an international between the French Barbarians and Argentina.
Biarritz sometimes move larger games across the border to Estadio Anoeta in Donostia/San Sebastián, Spain. The Anoeta is the nearest stadium to Biarritz with a suitable capacity for matches such as a Heineken Cup semi-final, which must be played at a venue which can hold at least 20,000 spectators. The Anoeta holds well above that limit, at slightly over 32,000. The first such match held there was a victory over Munster in a quarter final of the 2004–05 Heineken Cup. In 2005–06 Biarritz played and won both their Heineken Cup quarter and semi-finals at the venue. The 2006–07 quarter-final against Northampton was also played there. In the 2009–10 Top 14 season, Biarritz took two league matches to the Anoeta—their home leg of the Northern Basque derby against Bayonne, and a home match against fellow traditional power Toulouse. They also played both of their knockout matches leading up to the 2010 Heineken Cup final at the Anoeta, defeating Ospreys in the quarter-finals and Munster in the semi-finals.
Biarritz Olympique usually play in red and white colours. Green is the club's tertiary colour, as red, white and green are the traditional colours that represent the Basque Country. Their home uniform consists of red socks and shorts with a predominantly white shirt with red sides. A second jersey also has one green arm. Their uniform is collarless and is produced by Burrda Sport. The main shirt sponsor is Capgemini. In 1998, it adopted its current name (Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque), which refers to the club's Basque heritage the name is often abbreviated as BOPB. The club logo is a red and white shield with the B and O in the middle. The words Pays Basque also appear on either side of the logo in green.
The Biarritz supporters sometimes wave the Basque flag in the stands. Traditional Basque songs are also heard, as Basque supporters have a reputation for being very good singers. The Parc des Sports Aguilera is considered an intimidating venue to play at, with Biarritz supporters having a reputation for being very vocal.
Green background (row 1) Champions automatically promoted to Top 14. Blue background denotes teams that qualify for the promotion play-offs. Red background (row 15 and 16) will be relegated to Fédérale 1. Updated: 5 October 2014
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