Carcassonne confirm application to join League 1 with potential for a third French club in British rugby league pyramid

Ben Olawumi
Carcassonne Airport, Carcassonne XIII badge, Carcassonne Fortress

Carcassonne XIII have applied to compete in League 1 from the 2026 season - Alamy

French Elite Championship heavyweights Carcassonne XIII have submitted an application to join League 1 from 2026, meaning the tally of French clubs in the British rugby league pyramid could increase to three.

After Paris Saint-Germain’s demise, Catalans Dragons were the first of the two currently involved to make moves into the British game, joining Super League in 2006.

Since, they’ve enjoyed great success, winning the 2018 Challenge Cup and featuring in two of the last three Super League Grand Finals at Old Trafford.

Toulouse Olympique meanwhile had an unsuccessful first bite of the cherry, being elected into the Championship in 2009 but lasting just three seasons with no route into Super League available at the time due to licensing.

Following a stint in the French Elite Championship, they then made their return, accepted into League 1 for the 2016 season.

Olympique have since enjoyed some success, becoming one of the Championship’s big-hitters and spending a single season in Super League in 2022. They could well have returned next year, but lost out on home soil in the play-off final to London Broncos this term.

Now, IMG must start to consider whether the addition of Carcassonne would be one they’d like to take up.

Carcassonne confirm application to join League 1 from 2026 with potential for a third French club in British rugby league pyramid

The Canaries are one of French rugby league’s most trophy-laden clubs, winning the domestic title on 13 occasions, most recently in the 2021/22 campaign.

In the city of Carcassonne itself, vitally, there is an airport with flights to and from the UK. Some supporters already use it when they venture over to Catalans, with Carcassonne and Perpignan separated by a short and easily accessible train journey.

Formed in 1938, the club play their home games at the 10,000-capacity Stade Albert Domac. This season, they lifted the Coupe de France Lord Derby for a record 16th time.

The Canaries’ application to join the British game was confirmed by a local news outlet – L’Indep Carcassonne. Their article – translated – reads as follows: “The objective of the co-presidents of Carcassonne XIII is to achieve professionalisation by 2026, the year in which the Audois would begin their first competition across the Channel.

“This is perhaps a new chapter in the life of Carcassonne XIII. The Aude club, through its co-president Remy Bertrand, confirmed that it had submitted its application to IMG, an organisation that decides on the access (or not) of new teams to the English rugby league championships.

IMG will rule on the case of Carcassonne XIlI in 2025, taking into account various criteria such as infrastructure, sports
workforce and even financial structuring.

“To form a group commensurate with this new challenge, the club intends to rely on its partnership with VARL XIII and Villeneuve-Minervois, while also opening the door to Limoux and Lézignan, the two other emblematic Aude treizistes clubs.

“Behind this professionalisation project, the influence of an entire territory is in fact at stake, particularly on an economic level with the potential reception of English teams and supporters via Carcassonne airport.”

READ NEXT: 2023 Golden Boot winners announced as Jérémy Bourson becomes first-ever recipient of accolade from France