This Sunday, at the Christian Goumondie Stadium in Sarlat, an emblematic figure of the world of French Rugby could be spotted. Once a hooker on the pitch, Christophe Urios rose to even greater fame as a coach. He has two French rugby championship titles under his belt and is gunning for another as manager of Union Bordeaux Bègles, who were Top14 semi-finalists last season. But what brought Christophe Urios all the way to Sarlat for a Federale 2 rugby game?
Christophe Urios: A Titan of the French Rugby World
Christophe Urios was not always a giant associated with the biggest rugby towns in France. His origins are just as humble as the town of Sarlat. Born to a viticulture family in Pépieux in Occitan in the deep French south, he started playing in Olonzac. Quickly spotted for his skill, ambition, and character, he was picked out by Carcassone where he becomes a pillar of the team. But it was with Castres Olympique that he secured his fame as a hooker in the 90s, and later, in the 2000s as trainer and coach!
Over his decades in coaching, Christophe Urios demonstrated both a flair for finding and developing talent, and a determination to push his teams to excel. Responsible for the success of several Top 14 and ProD2 teams, with championship wins and acclaim following in his wake, Christophe Urios was even listed as a favorite potential pick to coach France’s international team. Clearly, Mr. Urios is a man who knows how far ambition and talent can take a man and a team; no wonder he enjoyed seeing what Sarlat Rugby had to offer this weekend.
Christophe Urios Brought More than Just Rugby
While the town’s residents came out in droves to see their team play and meet the celebrated coach, Christophe Urios was not just there to meet the small-town team with grand ambitions. A businessman of his own, he had been invited by Sarlat Rugby President Dom Einhorn to showcase some of his talents off the pitch. As a viticulturist and connoisseur of the fine French art of winemaking, Christophe Urios brought a dream of his own: the latest product of his family’s vineyards, Châteaux Pépusque.
A product of his native Languedoc, the grapes grown on the foothills of the ‘Black Mountain’ produce distinctive “Minervois” wines. Wines that Christophe Urios was more than happy to share with Sarlat Rugby sponsors and community from his own “Châteaux Pépusque” vineyards. With a heavy emphasis on the richness of its terroir and respect for the land, plant, and environment, his wines represent the best of modern winemaking married to the wealth of the region’s historical art. A parallel in many ways to what Christophe Urios has built on the rugby pitch, and Sarlat aims to do in turn: building on the strong foundations of community and tradition with the best modern tools and resources.
UBB’s Christophe Urios gets a Taste of Sarlat’s Rugby Community and Dream
A team like Union Bordeaux Bègles may have resources and media attention that far outstrips Sarlat Rugby but, on Sunday, Christophe Urios was able to experience something his big-city team does not have. The rich deeply-rooted strength of Sarlat’s rugby community. Part of the identity of the town and its residents, rugby is a rallying point for Sarlardais across generations, and their investment in the club in turn is one of its strengths. In turn, the sport, the team, and its values are part of the lifeblood of the town which Christophe Urios got to enjoy throughout the Sunday events.
Sarlat’s love for the sport was on full display. Dedicated volunteers were up before the crack of dawn to prepare the main meal. The kids of the rugby school wore big smiles as they ran onto the pitch with the players of both teams. And the whole day beat to the rhythm of the sport and town, with supporters gathering for a huge meal before the games. Many came to meet Christophe Urios certainly, but also simply to enjoy each other’s company, a tasty meal, and live music by La French Teuf – united by their passion for the game.
While the foundations of the team remain strongly rooted in this vibrant community, its ambitions aim to put the town on the rugby map! Christophe Urios was not the only guest of note on Sunday. A film crew for French television station France 3 was also present to document the day. Like Christophe Urios, the media are curious about the project Sarlat Rugby is building in the heart of the Perigord noir. Dom Einhorn, the team’s president, was more than happy to share that dream with both visitors, and the rest of France. Indeed, with the hard work of CXSports, a startup built around arming amateur clubs with the tools available to professional teams, Sarlat has exploded onto the national and international stage.
Viewers from around the globe tuned in for the team’s livestream of the Sunday game against Causse Vézère, and sponsors from near and far have begun to take note of the team’s media attention and success on the pitch. After all, the team aims to climb towards their eventual goal of the ProD2 division, passing through Federale 1 and the Nationale division along the way. Communication and outreach will be key to sharing the local flair and passion with the world. Dom has already captured the imagination of large-scale international sponsors like LUXE Digital Now. If rugby stars like Christophe Urios, and french television channels, are starting to take an interest as well, it is no coincidence. And it is only the beginning.