RC Lens

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RC Lens logo.svg
Full nameLe Racing Club de Lens
Nickname(s)Sang et Or (Blood and Gold)
Founded1906; 114 years ago (1906)
GroundStade Bollaert-Delelis
OwnerAmber Capital LP
PresidentJoseph Oughourlian
Head coachFranck Haise
LeagueLigue 1
2019–20Ligue 2, 2nd (promoted)
WebsiteClub website
Current season

Racing Club de Lens (French pronunciation: ​[ʁasiŋ klœb də lɑ̃s], commonly referred to as RC Lens or simply Lens), is a French football club based in the northern city of Lens in the Pas-de-Calais department. Its nickname, sang et or (blood and gold), comes from its traditional colours of red and gold. Their primary rivals are their northern neighbours Lille, with whom they contest the Derby du Nord.


Origin of the club[edit]

The club's origins date back to 1906 in Lens and lie with students playing football on the Place Verte (the current Place de la République). The name "Racing Club de Lens" was a reference to Racing Club de Roubaix and Racing Club de France, both popular at the time.

The club's first board of directors was formed by the parents of those students under the name of Racing Club de Lens in 1906. The club originally played in green and black to represent the founding location. They wore green to represent the name, "Verte", which means green in French, and black to represent the omnipresence of coal mines in the surrounding area.

Between 1907 and 1912, the players were forced to change sports grounds twice before settling at the actual Parc des Glissoires, between Avion and Lens.

During World War I, the club's activities were stopped, only restarting in 1919. Lens was then playing in sky blue.

Of blood and gold[edit]

It was in 1924 that the red and gold colours appeared. The legend says that Pierre Moglia, president of the club from 1923 to 1930, chose the colours of the Spanish flag after someone from the club remarked that the Saint-Léger church ruins they walked by that night were the last remains of the Spanish domination in 1648. People also say that the colours come from the coal mines: the red for the blood of the miners and the gold for the coal which was valuable at the time.

It was also in 1924 that the club was authorised to play at the newly built municipal stadium Raoul Briquet (nowadays Léo Lagrange). The first match with the new colours was played for the inauguration of the stadium.

In 1926, British footballer Kid Fenton was the first star who played for Lens, staying for eight seasons. It was also the year the first supporters group was formed, and – finally – Lens first capture of the Championnat d'Artois.

In 1929, Lens won the North championship and won promotion for the first time to the Division d'Honneur of the Ligue du Nord with the clubs Olympique Lillois, RC Roubaix, Excelsior Athlétic Club de Roubaix and AC Amiens.

In the Artois League, the club gained prestige, and in 1932, the club inaugurated the Stade Félix Bollaert.

The first victories[edit]

In 1937, Lens gained access to the first division after finishing first in the second division, led by such players as Stefan Dembicki and Spechtl. Lens even managed to reach the last 16 of the Coupe de France, although the team was eventually eliminated by the Red Star, 3–2.

In 1943, Lens won the first division of the Northern Zone thanks to Dembicki, who scored 43 goals in 30 games. A year earlier, in a Coupe de France match, he scored 17 goals, still the world record today.

After World War II, Lens finished in sixth place in the 1945–46 season, but they were relegated the following year. In 1948, the club played its first Coupe de France final, which they lost 3–2 against Lille. A year later, Lens was promoted to the first division, and Maryan Wisnieski was recruited, in 1953. Problems with the board, however, made him quit the club; he joined Italian club UC Sampdoria Genoa, though without much success.

In 1962, the city of Lens' mines were shut down and the club was at stake given that most of the players were miners. Between 1956 and 1968, survival was hard. Nevertheless, in 1964, Lens finished third, with Ahmed Oudjani the top scorer with 30 goals. Another famous player, Georges Lech, joined Lens, although the club was relegated in 1968. The following year, the mine's administrators rescinded their ownership of Lens, and it was the end of professional football at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis. Lens was once again an amateur club, one year after its relegation.

The good years and the fall[edit]

Better days arrived in 1960 after the town council bet on the Racing Club de Lens. Lens' mayor, André Delelis, wanted to see the club continue thrilling the fans. With the future president, Jean Bondoux, the mayor brought together volunteers and subscriptions to make the club survive. Moreover, the city recovered the stadium from the closing mine industry.

In 1972, Lens reached the semi-finals of the Coupe de France, and the arrival of two Polish players helped the club to the first division. In 1975, Lens once again reached the final of the Coupe de France against Saint-Étienne. But les Verts won the game 2–0, with an anthology goal by Jean-Michel Larqué.

As finalist of the Coupe de France, Lens had the opportunity to participate in its first UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, but the team was knocked out quickly by the Dutch club ADO Den Haag.

Lens' progress continued, and after finishing second in the league behind Nantes, they managed to qualify to the UEFA Cup. They knocked out Malmö FF, and above all, the Lazio. After an away defeat (2–0), they won 6–0 at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis after extra-time. Unfortunately, after this rare exploit for a French club, they were eliminated by East German side 1. FC Magdeburg. Worse, the club went back to the second division in 1978.

The return among the elite was in 1979 with Roger Lemerre as head coach. During the 1980s, Gérard Houllier and Joachim Marx succeeded him. These were great gains to the team, even though the club lost players such as Didier Sénac, Gaëtan Huard and Philippe Vercruysse.

Martel's takeover[edit]

In 1988, a local businessman took over the club, with the help of Serge Doré. During the same year, Arnaud Dos Santos was named head coach of the club, and led the club back to the first division in 1991.

In 1993 and 1994, Lens played in the top of the league, and the team qualified for the UEFA Cup twice in a row. Lens even reached the semi-final of the Coupe de France after knocking out Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes, although the team lost to Montpellier.

In 1998, es Sang et Or wrote the best page of their history under Daniel Leclercq ("the Druid"): French champions, Coupe de la Ligue semi-finalists and finalists of the Coupe de France (against PSG, a 2–1 defeat). Like a symbol, it is a player who started his career in Lens, Yohan Lachor, who scored the goal in Auxerre giving Lens the title in front of Metz. Under the "Druid", Lens won its second major title in 1999 with the Coupe de la Ligue against Metz, with a goal from Daniel Moreira. That year, in the UEFA Champions League, Lens also became the only club to have beaten Arsenal at Wembley Stadium (1–0, with a goal from Mickaël Debève), although they were knocked out.

During the next season, Leclercq was fired, but Lens nonetheless reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup. François Brisson's men were eliminated by Arsenal, but they won against 1. FC Kaiserslautern (a 4–1 win in Germany), Atlético Madrid and Celta de Vigo.

In the 2001–02 season, Joël Muller was named head coach. Lens finished second that season and qualified for its second Champions League campaign. The club, however, finished in eighth for the next two years. Muller was replaced during his fourth season by Francis Gillot, who managed to qualify Lens for the UEFA Intertoto Cup, which Lens won, ensuring qualification for the UEFA Cup.

During the 2006–07 season, the Sang et Or finished the first part of the season in second, behind Lyon. But due to a chaotic second half, however, they only finished fifth. A few days later, Francis Gillot resigned.

On 5 June 2007, Guy Roux made his comeback, although it only lasted three months: He resigned after a 2–1 defeat at Strasbourg. Jean-Pierre Papin took over, but Lens could not make up any ground throughout the season, finishing 18th, two points behind Toulouse, resulting in relegation to Ligue 2 for the next season. Lens finished the season with just 40 points, winning only 9 times in 38 matches.

After a slow start in their only year in Ligue 2, they managed to finish as leaders during the first half of the season. Earning 13 out of 15 points in their first five games of the second half, everything looked set for a quick return to the first league. After only taking five points of the next six games, however, the promotion race was open again, although Lens recovered and became champions, securing promotion to Ligue 1 for 2009–10. After the 2010–11 season, however, they again dropped to Ligue 2.

On 16 May 2014, Lens sealed promotion back to Ligue 1 on the final day of the season following a 2–0 win at Bastia. On 27 June, however, the League's National Directorate of Management Control (DNCG) blocked Lens' promotion to the top flight due to irregularities in the club's proposed budget for its next season. The issue was a €10 million payment due from major shareholder Hafiz Mammadov that was missing from the accounts. Lens president Gervais Martel claimed a public holiday in Mammadov's native Azerbaijan had resulted in the delay and said the club would appeal. On 15 July, however, their promotion was in jeopardy after an appeal commission upheld their appeal since the missing funds still had not yet arrived in the club's accounts. Lens immediately declared their intention to appeal to the French Olympic Committee (CNOSF), which has the power to overrule the DNCG. On 25 July, the CNSOF recommended Lens should be allowed to play in Ligue 1. Because the Stade Bollaert-Delelis was being renovated for UEFA Euro 2016, Lens played their home matches for the 2014–15 Ligue 1 season at the Stade de la Licorne, home of Amiens, and at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis.

It was announced on 29 January 2015 that Lens' promotion from Ligue 2 at the end of the 2013–14 season has been ruled invalid, and will thus be automatically relegated to Ligue 2 for the 2015–16 season, regardless of where the team places. Thus, in August 2015 Lens returned to Ligue 2, albeit playing at the renovated Stade Bollaert-Delelis. They drew an average home attendance of 28,996 in the 2016–17 season, the highest in Ligue 2 but missed promotion to the Ligue 1 during an tumultuous last day of the season.[1]

In the 2017–2018 Ligue 2 season, Lens lost their first seven matches in a row, the worst start to a season in the club's history. On 18 September, Lens finally got their first win of the season over US Quevilly-Rouen 2-0.[2][3]

In the 2018–19 Ligue 2 season, Lens finished 5th on the table and reached the promotion play off final against Dijon FCO. After a 1–1 draw in the first leg, Lens would lose the second leg and the tie 3-1 after two goalkeeping blunders by Jérémy Vachoux cost his side a chance of promotion to Ligue 1.[4]

On 30 April 2020, Lens were promoted to Ligue 1 after the LFP decided to end the seasons of both Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 early due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Lens were second on the table in Ligue 2 at the time of the decision.[5]


Winners (1): 1997–98
Runners-up (4): 1955–56, 1956–57, 1976–77, 2001–02
Winners (4): 1936–37, 1948–49, 1972–73, 2008–09
Runners-up: (2): 2013–14, 2019–20
Runners-up (3): 1947–48, 1974–75, 1997–98
Winners (2): 1994, 1998–99
Runners-up (1): 2007–08
Winners (3): 1959, 1960, 1965
Runners-up (1): 1957
Winners (3): 1957, 1958, 1992
Runners-up (3): 1979, 1983, 1993, 1995
Semi-finalists (1): 1999–2000
Winners (2): 2005, 2007 (joint winner)[6]


Current squad[edit]

First team[edit]

As of 15 February 2020.[7]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 France GK Didier Desprez
5 France DF Zakaria Diallo
6 France MF Manuel Perez
7 France FW Florian Sotoca
9 France FW Gaëtan Robail
11 France FW Mouaad Madri
13 France DF Clément Michelin
14 Guinea FW Jules Keita
15 Cape Verde DF Steven Fortès
16 France GK Jean-Louis Leca
18 France MF Yannick Cahuzac
19 Scotland MF Charles Boli
20 Mali DF Cheick Traoré
No. Position Player
21 Mali DF Massadio Haïdara
22 France MF Tony Mauricio
23 France FW Simon Banza
24 France DF Jonathan Gradit
25 France FW Corentin Jean (on loan from Toulouse)
26 Serbia DF Aleksandar Radovanović
27 Belgium MF Guillaume Gillet
28 Mali MF Cheick Doucouré
29 Brazil DF Vítor Costa (on loan from Inter de Lages)
30 France GK Thomas Vincensini
Senegal DF Cory Sene
France MF Tom Ducrocq
Colombia FW Jader Valencia (on loan from Millonarios)

Out on loan[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
France GK Valentin Belon (on loan at Laval)
Senegal DF Arial Mendy (on loan at Orléans)
No. Position Player
Burkina Faso MF Cyrille Bayala (on loan at Ajaccio)
France FW Benjamin Gomel (on loan at Cholet)

Other players under contract[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
France DF Moussa Sylla

Reserve team[edit]

As of 6 October 2018[8][9]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
France GK Bryan Bernard
France GK Tommy Plumain
France GK Yannick Pandor
France DF Ismael Boura
France DF Corentin Cal
France DF Enzo Ebosse
France DF Hugo Mahieu
France DF Randy Mavinga
Morocco DF Yanis Salmi
France DF Gregoire Pineau
France MF Yassine Chah
France MF Charles Boli
No. Position Player
France MF Alexis Bourigeaud
France MF Tom Ducrocq
France MF Kandet Diawara
France MF Ismael Hmani
France MF Maxence Lescroart
France MF Adrien Louveau
France FW Christopher Boussemart
France FW Corentin Lemaire
France FW Kassim Sidibe
France FW Gaetan Laura
France FW Owen Maes

Retired numbers[edit]

12France Club Supporters (the 12th Man)
17Cameroon Marc-Vivien Foé, Midfielder (1994–99) – posthumous honour.

Notable players[edit]

Former players[edit]

Three Lens players won the gold medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games: defender Didier Sénac, as well as strikers François Brisson and Daniel Xuereb who scored a goal apiece in France's triumph over Brazil 2–0 in the final at the Pasadena Rose Bowl in front of a crowd of 103,000.

For a complete list of RC Lens players, see Category:RC Lens players

French internationals[edit]

As of 31 January 2019

Rank Name Position Caps with Lens Total Caps
1 Maryan Wisnieski Forward 33 33
2 Georges Lech Forward 16 35
3 Xercès Louis Midfielder 12 12
4 Didier Six Forward 11 52
5 Alou Diarra Midfielder 11 44
6 Guillaume Bieganski Defender 5 9
7 Philippe Vercruysse Midfielder 4 12
8 Ladislas Smid Midfielder 4 4
9 Tony Vairelles Forward 3 8
10 Daniel Xuereb Forward 3 8
11 Pierre Laigle Midfielder 2 8
12 Daniel Moreira Forward 2 3
13 Didier Sénac Defender 2 3
14 François Brisson Forward 2 2
15 Edmond Novicki Forward 2 2
16 Michel Stievenard Forward 2 2
17 Frédéric Déhu Defender 1 5
18 Farès Bousdira Midfielder 1 1
19 Paul Courtin Forward 1 1
20 Jean Desgranges Forward 1 1
21 Raymond François Midfielder 1 1
22 Richard Krawczyk Midfielder 1 1
23 Marcel Ourdouillié Midfielder 1 1
24 Raphaël Varane * Defender 0 53
25 Loïc Rémy * Forward 0 31
26 Éric Carrière Midfielder 0 11
27 Geoffrey Kondogbia * Midfielder 0 5
28 Alphonse Areola * Goalkeeper 0 2

* Still playing.



Former coaches include two ex France coaches: Gérard Houllier (1982–85) managed France between July 1992 and November 1993, and Roger Lemerre (second half of the 1996–97 season, then as assistant coach 1997–98), who coached France between July 1998 and July 2002.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ligue 2 2016/2017 - Attendance". worldfootball.net. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  2. ^ "Lens gagne enfin un match ! - Sport.fr". sport.fr. 18 September 2017. Archived from the original on 18 October 2017. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 October 2017. Retrieved 17 October 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Lens rues Vachoux blunders as Dijon stays in Ligue 1". Bein Sports.
  5. ^ "Paris St-Germain awarded French title as season finished early". www.bbc.co.uk.
  6. ^ The UEFA Intertoto Cup: Past Winners. Listed are all 11 teams that won the Intertoto Cup, qualifying for the UEFA Cup.
  7. ^ "Equipe Premiere Saison 2019-2020" (in French). RC Lens Official Site. Retrieved 5 July 2019.
  8. ^ "JOUEURS". rclens.fr. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Effectif". rclens5962.footeo.com. Retrieved 6 October 2018.

External links[edit]