Going back to the protohistory period Brittany was made up of five celtic tribes.
The Namnetes, who lived in the current Loire Atlantique Pays de la Loire departement, gave their name to the city of Nantes.
Meanwhile, the Redonues or Rhedones who lived in the eastern part of the Ille et Vilaine department gave their name to the city of Rennes (Roazhon in Breton language) and to the town of Redon which sits between Nantes and Rennes.
In many European countries the term local derby is a highlight of the football calendar for teams and fans alike. But the actual source of the term is far more prosaic.
The Derby is the name of the premier yearly flat horse race in England and the contest was founded by the twelfth Earl of Derby in 1780. Since at least as early as 1840 the term ‘derby’ has been used as a noun in English to denote any kind of tight sporting contest.
A local derby is then just a sporting contest between two local rivals.
Whereas city derbies are rare in France – as opposed to in England where inner city football derbies arise almost weekly – ‘regional’ derbies are very common and popular in France.
The population of the historic region of Brittany is estimated to be around 4,475,295. Of these, about 71% live in the region of Brittany, while 29% live in the Loire-Atlantique department where Nantes is located.
While each match up engages bragging rights and rivalry Nantes and the current incarnation of Rennes first met on 15 December 1963 in a league match.
The clash between Rennes and Nantes is then seen as the major derby match in this area of France.
Both clubs have an affiliation to the Breton heritage and the derby is regularly contested to decide “which city is the real football capital of Brittany”. Both clubs display their Breton identity proudly and before they kick off the Breton anthem Bro Gozh ma Zadoù is often sang on the field of play by a singer.
It is also normal for the Breton flag to be flown by Rennes fans – it being called the Gwenn ha du which means white and black in Breton.
While Nantes are one of the most successful clubs in French football history (having won eight Ligue 1 titles and three Coupe de France titles) it is rivals Stade Rennais who currently sit amongst the top 4 of the teams that participate in the French top tier of football – which is called Ligue 1 Conforama for sponsorship reasons.
And the Roazhon Park club now wants to build on its 2019-20 Europa League exploits to participate in next season’s UEFA Champions League bringing elite European football to the Roazhon for the first time.