Rugby union in Switzerland

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Rugby union in Switzerland
Stade de Geneve.jpg
The Stade de Genève, which saw some rugby action in the 2006-07 Heineken Cup
Governing bodySwiss Rugby Federation
National team(s)Switzerland
First played1869
Registered players~5000
National competitions

Rugby union in Switzerland is a minor but growing sport.

Governing body[edit]

The Swiss Rugby Federation was founded in 1972 and joined the IRFB in 1988.[1]


Like neighbouring Germany, Austria and France, Swiss rugby is actually amongst the oldest in the world. The earliest recorded match in Switzerland was in 1869, and Lausanne RFC can claim to be as old as Blackheath.[1]

However, Swiss rugby continued at a very low key for over a hundred years. The World Wars and other global upheavals hindered the game, and it was really the presence of a number of ex-patriates working in the banking industry, or as tax exiles, who helped keep the game going.[1]

In 1974, a side from Basel toured France and were on the end of record breaking defeats. They lost 127-0 to Grenoble, 104-3 to Thonon and 116-0 to Annecy.[2] The captain of the Basel team, Pierre Langlois said, "We conceded 73 tries, I think. We even had a penalty try given against us when we were losing by 100 points."[2]

Swiss rugby continued in a haphazard manner during the 1970s and 80s, for example, when Switzerland was due to play Bellinzona RFC in Italy, two of their players were delayed by a landslide.[3] In order to make up numbers, a journalist and their coach driver were added to the squad. They did so well in the game that they were invited to subsequent training sessions.[3]

The Swiss Federation undertook an intensive development program in the 1980s, under Evelyne Oberson, and managed to gain a number of new native players.[1]. Ms Oberson, working often alone in Lausanne as a volunteer, was in every way a key element to Swiss rugby as, through her high level of personal organisation and admin skills, for the most part managed the (then) small Federation almost single-handedly. She was essential to Swiss rugby holding together from the 80s until its current format.

In 1989, Chris Thau claimed that Switzerland had around 1,000 players (a number which has increased somewhat since then).[4]

There are at least thirty Swiss clubs at present.[1]

Swiss rugby is now dominated by home grown players, and for some the bright lights of French and Italian rugby might be a draw.[1]

More recently, 2006-07 Heineken Cup clash between the French side Bourgoin and Irish rugby's Munster was moved from Bourgoin's home ground, to the Stade de Genève (Geneva Stadium). The stadium's capacity is 30,000, and attendance on the day was 16,255.[5]

Notable Swiss players include:

Local clubs[edit]

See also[edit]


  • Cotton, Fran (Ed.) (1984) The Book of Rugby Disasters & Bizarre Records. Compiled by Chris Rhys. London. Century Publishing. ISBN 0-7126-0911-3
  • Richards, Huw A Game for Hooligans: The History of Rugby Union (Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh, 2007, ISBN 978-1-84596-255-5)
  • Thau, Chris World Cup Preliminaries in Starmer-Smith, Nigel & Robertson, Ian (eds) The Whitbread Rugby World '90 (Lennard Books, 1989)
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bath, p75
  2. ^ a b Cotton, p47
  3. ^ a b Cotton, p86
  4. ^ Thau, p75
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-02-10. Retrieved 2007-01-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]