Occitanie: a rugby heartland Rugby: a rich history and a way of life

Rugby place du Capitole © Nathalie Casado - Agence d'attractivité Toulouse métropole - CRT Occitanie

Toulouse, place du Capitole © Nathalie Casado

In Occitanie, rugby is more than just a team sport, played with both strength and enthusiasm. It is a real culture, whose values and the enthusiasm it generates have been permeating its towns and villages for over 100 years. Rugby runs through our veins, so are you ready to share our passion?

The history of rugby: a trip to Occitanie

From England to Toulouse

We all know that rugby was invented at Rugby School, 80 Km from London, in 1823. The game first reached France through Le Havre, later conquering Paris, then Bordeaux. In the late 19th century, the sport then made its way along the River Garonne to Prairie des Filtres, a river-side park in Toulouse, where students graced its hallowed turf with many a try-scoring spree.

The popularity of this new ball game exploded in rural Occitanie, giving the smallest communities in the region the opportunity to converse with neighbouring villages and to enjoy themselves together on the pitch.

The rapid, significant and sustained rise in popularity of this sport in Occitanie – and South-West France – remains a unique phenomenon.

Prairie des Filtres - Toulouse

Prairie des Filtres - Toulouse


More than 100 years ago, a religion was born that would drive Toulouse, the people of Toulouse, and their immediate vassals, towards the abyss of devotion. In the Land of Pastel, rugby is King," Henri Rozès, writer/journalist.

Rugby and Occitanie

A couple who enjoy the good things in life

So, why is there such a deeply rooted passion for rugby in Occitanie? Because the people of this region strongly associate themselves with the values of rugby: solidarity, commitment, fraternity, bravery, respect for others, etc. All of these values resonate with them.

It's also about the climate and people's nature. The ardour and exuberance of the people of Toulouse and Gascony, their penchant for savouring mild evenings outdoors, and their natural predilection for a laugh and a joke, go hand in hand with the power of rugby and its unmissable extras: the third half, partying, drinking and eating.

Since rugby originated as a rural sport, it celebrates both the joy of living and the community spirit unique to each village, town and city in Occitanie.

Supporters rugby © OT Toulouse

Before, during, after... rugby is a party © OT Toulouse

Did you know?

Rugby is a tradition that is passed down through the generations in Occitanie. It is a tradition that still lives on among rugby families, who bestow their passion for the game upon their children in their cribs.

A big rugby family

A family open to all

A Sunday game in Montech, Tarn-et-Garonne: grandmas flock to the local pitch to see their grandchildren play, forming a tight unit, providing a running commentary on every phase of play, having fun and fully immersing themselves in the action.

Whether in a field in the middle of the countryside, or in a stadium in the heart of one of its largest cities, such as the black and red cauldron Stade Ernest-Wallon, the home of Stade Toulousain, rugby brings together people of all ages and backgrounds in Occitanie.

This is how the immense pride of the rugby family is expressed. Whether on the terraces or in street-corner cafés, its profound sense of kinship is apparent, bringing together a highly impressive number of brothers and sisters, cousins, grandmas and granddads, and residents and visitors, who are all united in a heavily fervour.

Match de rugby © OT Perpignan

Rugby match © OT Perpignan