Stade Francais and Racing 92 will merge into one club from the 2017/18 season, the two sides have announced. The news regarding the Paris-based clubs putting their rivalry aside has sent shockwaves around the world of rugby, but both outfits have stressed their collective desire to 'preserve the roots' of the Sky Blues and Whites and the Pinks.
The two sides have won 20 top-14 titles, more than any other team in the league, and the merging of their resources will presumably lead to the birth of a 'superclub' in the French capital. Both Racing and Stade Francais expressed their delight at the shock merger on Monday (13 March) and believe the move will help them cope with the 'challenges of performance and education'.
"Winners of the first two championships in the history of French rugby in 1892 and 1893, Racing 92 and Stade Français Paris also won the Brennus Shield in the last two seasons," the two clubs said in statements on their official websites.
"These two flagship clubs of Paris and the Hauts de Seine, beyond the sporting rivalry they have enjoyed, have many other similarities: a strong local and regional anchoring, a historic educational mission, ancestral ties with The Olympic movement or an inextinguishable will to progress in all areas.
"It is on the basis of these principles that the two clubs lay the foundations for a merger project by pooling their resources to better cope with the challenges of performance and education.
"This association, effective from next season, must give birth to a new club that will preserve the roots of Racing 92 as those of the Stade Français Paris while multiplying the means put at the service of youth and French rugby.
"Consolidated by its dual culture, by the fierce determination of its two presidents and its increased audience in a population pool unmatched in France, this new club has a long-term commitment to build a true reference day after day."