A winless French rugby club on the verge of unwanted sporting immortality
It was a long time coming, but all bad things come to an end. The sequence is over. Last Saturday the Worcester Warriors finally won a Premiership match.
By beating the London Irish 36-24 at Sixways, Worcester ended an 18-game losing streak in the league, a streak dating back to the corresponding game last November. Amateurs. With the Premiership boxed in now and for the foreseeable future, Worcester had the opportunity to do something incredible and stage a losing streak for centuries, but they threw it all away. And why? Finishing 10th or 11th when history was within their grasp? Pathetic.
If you want to see how it’s really done then you should look over the English Channel to Agen, losers from losers. According to some meticulously researched statistics by (and shamelessly stolen from) my Francophile colleague Charles Richardson, Agen’s wait for the sweet taste of a league win will have reached 583 days by the time they play at Mont de Marsan in ProD2, the second in French rugby. level, Saturday. For context, when they won 30-16 in Brive on February 22, 2020, Covid-19 was firmly housed in the foreign news section of newspapers. Apparently, there were concerns that this could affect the supply chains of Primark and Asos. Fortunately, nothing more happened …
But there is more. Their expectation of a home league victory dates back even further – more than 700 days – to October 19, 2019, when Stade Français were beaten 27-19, when most people would have thought the Wuhan lab was a hip-hop tribute band. It is quite remarkable to trace their form during this period of almost two years. They start the Top 14 season strong. At the start of the 2019-20 season, they beat Brive and cash Montpellier, draw Racing 92 and claim many bonus points. At this point, not only do the wheels begin to come off, but the entire vehicle passes through the median and ignites.
Yet despite this downward spiral, Agen was saved from relegation, with the pandemic curtailing the 2019-2020 campaign. Once the sport resumed in France, their trajectory continued in vertical descent. The final standings were as follows: played 26, lost 26, scored 315, conceded 1101. The only stain on their notebook was two losing bonus points, which prevented them from winning a big zero in the points column, but still stared all kinds. by Top ignominious. 14 records (although that was still a point higher than London Welsh’s 2014-15 Premiership campaign).
Relegation can often allow clubs to press regroup and reset. Work on rebuilding their Armandie Stadium began over the summer, which provided a pretty decent metaphor. However, their new campaign started out exactly the same as the last one. Four games, four defeats, including the newly promoted Bourg-en-Bresse. To make matters worse, Saturday’s opponents, Mont de Marsan, are at the top of the standings.
Located in the heart of rugby southwest France, Agen has a proud history. They have won the French championship eight times and reached the final in 2002. French icon Philippe Sella represented them for 13 years.