The legendary figurehead of Biarritz, Serge Blanco, has stepped down as President of the club.
Serge Blanco resigned as President of Biarritz after failing to gain a two thirds majority to bring about a merger with Basque rivals Bayonne. Although negotiations have been ongoing for some time, they have often been heated, as sections of supporters from both clubs opposed the creation of a composite Basque outfit.
Given that next season will be the first in which a Basque club has not been represented in the French top tier since rugby went professional, news of Blanco’s defeat will cast rugby into an uncertain future in the region. Despite winning the Top 14 in 2002 and 2006, Biarritz find themselves playing in France’s second tier, the ProD2, after being relegated in the 2013/14 season. Likewise, Bayonne were relegated this season.
Both sides also find themselves in perilous financial positions. It has been reported that Biarritz are €2.5 million in the red, while Bayonne’s main financial backer, Alain Afflelou, has recently reduced his support from €4 million to €1 million.
It would seem that the 8.4 kilometres between the two towns could not be bridged as local rivalry and pride has overcome pragmatic reality.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena