The official rugby bank: a historic commitment

Published on 17/09/2019

Societe Generale became the official "rugby bank" in 1987. Today, this partnership means that the bank proudly displays its brand on the game’s goalposts and closely associates its values to those of the sport. A commitment that has not happened by chance: its roots reach right back to the beginning of the last century.

La banque du rugby, 1987,  la Société Générale, le ballon ovale

Since the early 20th century, Societe Generale and rugby have shared close ties. In 1903, the bank's leaders decided to found an athletic association, the Club Athlétique de la Société Générale (CASG) with one guiding idea: sport would provide employees with physical relaxation after work, develop team spirit and give the business the chance to shine. Beginning in 1912, the institution's management has focused its investment on the rugby division, due to its appreciation for the sport's unique values of excellence, respect, trust and solidarity. The results of this investment have exceeded everyone's expectations. Within two years, just as the world was about to go to war, the team had already advanced to the first Paris championships. Between World War I and World War II, CASG maintained its momentum and cemented its position as one of the best clubs in France. Indeed, it was so successful that the French Rugby Federation (FFR), which wanted to popularise the sport in places where it was not yet well-established, asked the club to play exhibition games outside the Paris region. CASG won the Paris championships in 1926 and 1933 and counted a dozen international players among its members. These include Soulié, Thiercelin, Besson, Gerintes and Lousteau , who won silver medals in the Olympic Games at Antwerp (1920) and Paris (1924). The bank's rugby sponsorship also took the form of stadium construction. In 1925, in response to the growing popularity of the sport, Societe Generale financed Jean Bouin Stadium in Paris, which currently hosts the Stade Français team.

After it was nationalised in 1945, the bank stopped investing directly in the club's management. However, several of its employees continued to be members and maintained our dedication to the sport. In 1984, the Group partnered with CASG to organise the Challenge Jean Bouin - Trophée Société Générale, played between the two teams eliminated during the French championship tournament's semi-finals. As a partner in the Village XV de France (French national rugby union team fan village), it participates in public relations campaigns during the Six Nations Championship .  So it was natural that, once it was privatised in 1987, Societe Generale intensified its commitment to the sport and became one of the first official partners of the FFR. In a climate of heightened competition and economic globalisation, Societe Generale chose rugby to embody its values as a strong, capable and competitive international bank. In this respect, the sponsorship focuses on three major areas: mounting campaigns to encourage people to play the sport (the "10,000 rugby balls for schools" initiative), maintaining Societe Generale's visual presence on the field and during televised events (advertising on post protectors, tickets, the "Talent d'Or" award created in 1988, etc.) in order to support the bank's sales and marketing strategy and, finally, promoting values shared by the world of rugby and Societe Generale (team spirit, ethics, advance preparation, innovation, discipline and performance).

In 1991, the Group broadened the scope of its support by becoming the official sponsor of the Rugby World Cup. The bank is proud to point out that international players such as Irish fullback Jim Staples and Australian Nick Farr-Jones, both of whom played for London, Parisian Fabien Galthié and more recently Jérôme Cazalbou, the scrum-half from Toulouse, were included among its employees. Four years later, Societe Generale was still on the front lines as the sport was professionalised. It strengthened its ties with the rapidly changing sport by signing an agreement with the French National Rugby League (LNR), under which it has supported the famous Top 14 competition since the 2005-2006 season.  As such, it sponsors the Trophée des Essais, which recognises the clubs with the strongest offensive lines for the season and the greatest achievement of the year.

Since the resounding success of the World Rugby Cup organised in France in 2007, our commitment to the sport has not waned one iota. Societe Generale has partnered with more than 23 regional FFR committees and 400 amateur clubs throughout France, as well as with federations: Germany, China, Luwembourg, Madagascar... In keeping with its tradition of innovation, it has been supporting rugby sevens since 2001, which will become an Olympic sport in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro games. The bank is also the official sponsor of the French under-17 youth championships in rugby sevens, and more recently of "Societe Generale Sevens", a real championship for French students. All of this goes to show that Societe Generale has a firm commitment to a sport whose popularity is only continues to grow.

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