Expansionist Blog: It is important Catalans kick on from Challenge Cup triumph

Drew Darbyshire

It is vital that Catalans capitalise on their Challenge Cup victory and make sure that it wasn’t just a one-off.

The Dragons became the first-ever non-British side to win the Challenge Cup back in August, beating Warrington Wolves at Wembley.

They have gone down in history and that will never change, but they need to use their triumph to achieve more success now.

Not only did Catalans etch their name into the Challenge Cup history books, but they also created history for themselves as a club, with it being their first-ever major trophy since they entered Super League back in 2006.

Their new recruit, Sam Tomkins, has highlighted just how important it is that Catalans thrive on their Challenge Cup victory.

“I’m coming into a successful side now with some silverware that we need to defend,” Tomkins said.

“The challenge now is to take that to the next level and be consistent as a club. We want to be competing for both of the big trophies every single year, we don’t want last year to be a one-off.

“There are only two big trophies – the Challenge Cup and the Grand Final. Once you get a trophy, you have got to go out there and defend it. There are a few new faces, but the majority of the squad are the side that went to Wembley and won last year, so we want to make sure that we keep clicking and the boys are as smooth as possible.”

On paper, the Dragons have one of the best teams in Super League. Their forward pack is one of – if not – the biggest in the competition and while having strength on your side isn’t everything in rugby league, it certainly helps.

But it seems as though coach Steve McNamara, who came under a lot of scrutiny when they had won just two out of their first 11 games this year, has built a solid culture at the club.

“Steve being in charge was a factor in me coming to Catalans,” Tomkins explained.

“I’ve worked with Steve for five years at international level, so I know what Steve was about. Steve was at Sydney Roosters while I was at New Zealand Warriors and we kept in touch then.

“I liked the way he spoke about the club, it was pretty special. He wants us to remain French and represent the French people but wants us to change people’s opinion on the club in the UK.

“Catalans have gone from a Million Pound Game to a Challenge Cup win in the space of a year and I thought that is exciting. It is a club that I want to be a part of.”

It seems the Dragons are certainly heading the right direction, but they have to build on their victory to grow as a club on and off the field.