Rugby Club Luxembourg makes it to 50

The grand duchy’s first rugby club has come a long way over its 50 year history, writes Nick Frank at Rugby Club Luxembourg in this guest contribution.

It’s amazing what can be achieved when a few mates with a common passion get together and hatch a plan. This is how the Rugby Club Luxembourg started 50 years ago. A group of rugby enthusiasts who had arrived in Luxembourg for work were the foundation members for the club. Many of those founding members will be with the club on a special weekend this June (9-10 June) to celebrate the club and the great enjoyment it has meant for many over the years.

The first match was played on a cow field. It literally was a cow field with the match having to be stopped mid-match with the bovine friends joining the RCL pioneers on the grassy meadow in Moutfort. It is understood the French prime minister Pierre Messmer, deputy for Moselle, was petitioned to allow RCL to play in the Alsace-Lorraine French leagues.

Club evolution in the 1970s and 1980s

As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations a history of the club is being made by recording the thoughts of members of the senior playing section of RCL from the various eras. The 70s and 80s have been categorised as having a great social spirit with the events being organised via the club as beacons for the expat working community in Luxembourg. Many long-standing family relationships were established during the era and 2nd and 3rd generations of families emanating from those periods are gracing the RCL rugby pitch today. But, the cows are no longer competing for the field! During the 70s and 80s the club continued to compete in the Alsace-Lorraine leagues and while it was always a struggle to ensure plenty of players on the pitch, the spirit and quality of rugby progressed.

As Luxembourg continued to grow and flourish as a financial centre and the European institutions developed there were always working opportunities. Through the 70s and 80s there was a constant flow of new entrants into the Luxembourg landscape for employment, and RCL and its members were always helpful in finding gainful employment for rugby players. This process took a step up in terms of formality in the early 90s with the club actively recruiting players (mainly keen graduates) from rugby playing nations in Europe and a fruitful link to New Zealand established. The quality of play on the field increased with the culmination of this combined effort being RCL lifting the Alsace-Lorraine Cup in the spring of 1994. The recruitment process continued through the 90s with the club continuing to grow.

1990s and 2000s

During the mid-90s the club transferred away from playing in France (for administrative and bureaucratic reasons) and joined the Belgian leagues. While RCL had to start from the bottom in the Belgian leagues the quality of play on the field, a combination of increased numbers of players arriving into Luxembourg for work and the continued recruitment drive, meant rapid movement up through the leagues. RCL was competing very well in Belgian 1st division and made it to the final of the Belgian Cup.

Early in the 2000s RCL decided to head back to the Alsace-Lorraine leagues and competed there for a few years before establishing itself in the German Bundesliga in the mid-2000s. The club has fluctuated between the 1st and 2nd divisions in Germany during the period since moving there. RCL currently sits near the top of the 2nd division. Domestic senior rugby in Luxembourg is made up of the 2 clubs RCL & Walferdange. While Walferdange have come close on a couple of occasions, RCL prides itself on having always held the coveted Lux Cup!