Editor’s Column: Catalans need to find their identity – and fast

Catalans are 80 minutes from dropping out of Super League and a potentially uncertain future.

There are worries that the progress they have made with their two academy teams and stadium improvements could all be in vain if they lose their place at the top table.

But they only have themselves to blame. I asked back in June what was going on with Catalans, and nobody seems to have figured it out yet.

Those who have visited Perpignan in recent seasons will have noticed a drop-off in standards – pictures from no later than 2015, the entrance still advertises 2015 Super League prices, and crowds have declined.

They seem to have lost their identity. An English coach, a team made up of predominantly English and Australian players isn’t representing what is a passionate area as it should be.

The gallic flair has been lost in favour of what one local called it, boring one-up rugby. One local even praised Widnes for their style of rugby, and many Vikings followers will tell you it hasn’t been pretty from them this season either.

With all due respect to on-loan Wiganer Lewis Tierney, he is not good enough to be a starting full-back in Super League. Major questions have to be asked as to how so many French players have been allowed to depart Catalans and why.

The situation with Tony Gigot has been unfortunate, but Morgan Escare came close to being Super League Young Player of the Year a few years ago, and the Dragons loss has certainly been Wigan’s gain, despite his injury woes.

The purpose of the Dragons is surely to grow the French player pool, to improve standards in France and ultimately have a positive impact on the France national team and domestic competition.

At the moment, it’s not. And they are going to have to go some to find the sort of performance needed to beat Leigh on Saturday.

 

Two decisions that Catalans made in Saturday’s game perhaps sum up the current lethargy about the place. Boasting a one man advantage, after Chris Houston’s sin-binning, and 4-2 down, the Dragons opted to kick for goal when they got a penalty 10 metres out, even though a draw wasn’t enough.

This was completely, therefore, contradicted by the fact that in the last couple of minutes, they neglected the chance to kick a penalty and level the score, even though a draw would have earned them a home game against Leigh in the Million Pound Game.

 

Credit has to be given to Widnes for their professional showing in The Qualifiers, which has earned them five wins. They have conceded less than 100 points in their seven games, and have improved their defence compared to the regular season by almost 50%.

Lots of critics say that Widnes don’t add anything to Super League – but it may well be that it’s their academy that can be the cornerstone of the club for years to come. They had eight academy products in the squad that went to France, and if the club can continue to bring through and develop young players which enables them to compete at the top level, then perhaps that is the blueprint for their success.

 

Live coverage of League 1 (other than Toronto) is a pipedream, but hats off to the social media men at Whitehaven and York, who managed to convey a dramatic play-off semi-final in the most pulsating manner on Sunday afternoon. 105 minutes it took to separate the two, Ste Roper’s drop goal ultimately setting up an all-Cumbrian promotion crunch for Whitehaven with Barrow next week. It’s a crying shame that a spot for major games, as play-off semi-finals are, can’t be found on Premier Sports or even live streams in this day and age.

3 Comments

  1. I Agree 100% with everything, Catalans, widnes and especially the terrible treatment by sky of the lower leagues of rugby league. As grateful as we must be to sky for their contribution to league, they are also holding us back. They pay far more for the poor kick n clap code, who also are constantly on terestisl , BT and seemingly everyone else.
    We need a strong negotiation team and some other alternative options. We can not ignore the lower leagues.

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