On Saturday, the club celebrates 120 years of its creation. The opportunity to return to the values that are transmitted from generation to generation.
The story began 120 years and a few days ago. September 13, 1902, to be exact. It was on this day that was born, in the swarming associations of the beginning of the XXe century, the Perpignan Sports Association (ASP). Since then, water has flowed under the bridges and the ASP has become the USAP. History has spun, often for better, and sometimes for worse.
At the time of celebrating the 120th anniversary of the club this Saturday, at Aimé-Giral, during the reception of Toulon, these are the values and the heritage that the Catalan players will carry on their shoulders, in particular via a special jersey. “When you play at USAP and you come from the territory, you are asked very honored to reach this level, recalls Christophe Manas, trained in Perpignan, player under the blood and gold colors from 2002 to 2010, champion of France in 2009. When you play your first match, it is better to avoid taking on your back all the dimension and the historical burden that this represents. It’s not good to add pressure to yourself. But you just have to enter the stadium to know that there is a history and a culture.”
“Wearing this jersey, which is moreover at Aimé-Giral, which is the cathedral of our rugby, is not nothing”
Jacques Basset, he was part of the finalist team in 1998. The former scrum half remembers very well his first in the Catalan jersey. “There was an extra weight, undeniably, he smiles. When you are a young person from the department, wearing this jersey, which is moreover at Aimé-Giral, which is the cathedral of our rugby, is not nothing. Moreover, very young, I preferred to play outside than at home. Honestly, there was less pressure. Afterwards, with experience, you learn to use this pressure, even if it is not It’s never easy to get into Aimé-Giral…”
Fight and abnegation
So these “values”, what are they? “What makes a USAP player is to honor the shirt through combat, continues Christophe Manas. I think that’s our historical values, even if the game is also part of our genes. Besides, if you ask other clubs what they fear first when they play USAP, I don’t think it’s the game that comes first.”
Jean-François Imbernon, player in the 1970s and 1980s, still very involved in the association, cannot say the opposite. “We represent a region where there are many peasants, men who cultivate the land, he recalls. Here, it is the vines, the market gardening, the arboriculture, which require solidity and solidarity. These are values that must be relied on to achieve a successful harvest. Those that the pioneers had and that have been passed on.”
The transmission, precisely, all the elders talk about it. “When I see some current players, they are the very example of the mentality and the heritage of the club, assures Imbernon. There are obviously sometimes a few players from outside who are not affected, but if that’s the case, it’s because they haven’t understood anything.”
Jacques Basset is even more concerned with the subject. In the staff of the hopes, the sharing of the history of the club is part of its missions. “What matters is the DNA and the virtues of the club, he warns. You have to be the fight first. We never give up and we fight until the end no matter what. It is passed down from generation to generation. There, there was a big turnover among young people. From the end of last season, we started telling the players that it is now up to them to carry the values of the club.”