Expansionist Blog: Paris Saint-Germain – What could have been

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Paris Saint-Germain were only in Super League for two years but were riddled by off the field issues.

The French outfit were founded in 1995 as the Rugby League department of footballing giants Paris Saint-Germain.

Their first season as a professional Rugby League outfit was in 1996 as part of Super League’s inaugural season.

Former French Rugby Union player and manager Jacques Fouroux was the PSG president and they were the only club outside of England.

They had a roster of 26 players, including ex-Racing 92 Rugby Union star Darren Adams.

Michel Mazare was the head coach of PSG in their debut season and they started in great fashion, with a fine victory over Sheffield Eagles in their debut game in front of a crowd of 17,873 at the 20,000 capacity Stade Sebastien Charlety stadium on March 29 1996.

However, Paris soon declined, finishing second-bottom, with just three wins from 22 games, including a 76-8 hammering from Wigan Warriors.

Fouroux left the club in the lurch though at the end of the 1996 campaign, leaving the club in debt and with their future also up in the air.

Jacques Larrose then became the new president and PSG very nearly missed out on competing in the 1997 Super League season due to financial problems.

Australian Peter Mulholland was now the coach and the squad consisted of 22 foreign players, with Deon Bird and Jason Sands being the only players at the club from the previous season.

Again, PSG started the campaign with a win over Sheffield Eagles before there was another decline in the results.

Former Wigan star Andy Goodway replaced Mulholland as coach and they went on to beat Australian outfit Western Reds 24-0 in the World Club Challenge and even beat Wigan 30-28 at home in Super League.

But once again, there were more issues behind the scenes. Two board members at the club were in dispute with Super League and contracts were denounced of some of the PSG players to the authorities.

The players, mainly Australians, had tourist visas rather than employment contracts to avoid paying taxes in France.

And like the season before, the club finished in 11th place but they showed considerable improvements, winning six games in 1997 compared to the three from the previous year.

But unfortunately, they played their last game against Salford on September 7 1997, as the scandal led to the dissolution of PSG.

It is quite sad to see that the main reason why the club didn’t work was because of financial issues behind the scenes.

We have seen French clubs Catalans Dragons and Toulouse Olympique integrated within the Rugby Football League and they have gone on to become successful franchises.

And it makes you think, did they just crop up at the wrong time? Super League and the summer era was only just introduced when the club was formed.

The club were classed as partners with football giants PSG but it wasn’t much of a partnership. It would be exciting if they can rise once again and actually form a formidable force with the football club and become an established team in Rugby League.

It may sound ambitious and hopeful but Rugby League is definitely in a good place in France, with the domestic competition continuing to grow and improve.

Oh, what could’ve been with Paris Saint-Germain…

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