If you think the world is bringing the world, French rugby will make you forget this sophism. Supported by a population of 12 million people, Racing 92 and Stade Français most often move in front of sparse stands. Last season, only Agen attracted fewer people in the league than Stade Français and its average of 10,316 spectators.
And if Racing 92 does better with more than 14,000 people sitting in the bleachers for the top 14, its fill rate of 47% reflects its difficulty filling the shiny Paris-La Défense Arena. Explanations before the derby between the two formations Sunday (16h50) in the capital, stadium Jean-Bouin (sixteenth).
A complicated sporting context
The last two of the Top 14, each with two wins in eight matches, are available. Summary as it envy does not really envy the layman to turn Sunday in western Paris to take place in the stands of Jean-Bouin. OK, the magnifying glass effect at the start of the season, played in parallel with a World Cup, is reductive. But for Stade Français, it symbolizes a decline in the rugby tricolor hierarchy: since the 2015 title, the Parisians have not gone through the playoffs.
“To attract the public, you need to find more regular sports results. The show clearly plays on the frequency, "adds the new Paris director, Thomas Lombard. On the neighbor side, it is difficult to put the concerns of prosperity on the basis of the results: champion in 2016, finalist in the European Cup that year, and in 2018 Racing 92 did not go miss the playoffs since its rise in the elite in 2009.
"We need a team from France that wins and seduces to attract people to club matches," said Damien Rajot, general manager of ultra-modern pregnant Hauts-de-Seine. We also need to find a more positive communication about this sport: For recently we have been talking a lot about accidents taking place on the ground. "
Vincent Chaudel, founder of Sports Business Observatory, points out the absence of stars in the top 14. “There is no more Chabal, Wilkinson or Carter. If you do not have stars, it can still go when you face Toulouse as it speaks to people, but you will have difficulty getting the general public at the reception to Agen or Castres. "
Leisure competition in Paris
If the Paris region has an unparalleled population pool in France, it also concentrates an unparalleled leisure service. "Our competitor, it's not just Stade Français, but also the Louvre and Disneyland," says Damien Rajot. We position ourselves in the business market in a broad sense. "
“Right in front of Jean-Bouin we have a weight competition with Parc des Princes, which has become the place to be for the last years, complete Thomas Lombard. The offer is more consistent than anywhere else. "
"We have a centralized state where you have all the best in terms of culture in Paris," continues Vincent Chaudel. If you can access the best, why see what is average? In Clermont-Ferrand, the Ligue 2 team does not give much shade to ASM, even when things are not going well. In Paris you have PSG. In Ile-de-France, it is the only club that combines massive wealth and an optimal filling rate.
Stadiums that do not print
"If you are told that the Stade de France, you answer France-Brazil," says the sports business expert. But if we tell you the new Jean-Bouin or Paris-La Défense Arena, what do you answer? These stages lack popular experience. "
At Stade Français, which in June obtained the management of its fence at the City Hall in Paris, it is clear that it is necessary to "make known and appreciate the place, so that the people put a nice picture. There has not been much communication from Paris City Hall to this stadium and only dedicated rugby, it makes it more difficult to make known, "said Thomas Lombard. In July 2020, the club will host performances of "Swan Lake" to attract a different audience.
In 92, we multiply theme parties and sometimes transform the Arena into a giant nightclub. "We manage to bring people once or twice, but not yet to make regular spectators," says the director of the enclosure. One of the next ideas? An after-work party for receiving Osprey’s Welsh in December to attract the nearby defense leaders. “We want people to say to themselves: There, there is a real atmosphere. "