French round-up: Jouffret Snr returns to Avignon, another Serbian at Carpentras & Villegas retires

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Jouffret back where it all began

Former Catalans CEO Christophe Jouffret has joined Avignon, to help professionalise the club. He said: “I had to give back to my original club and to my sport what it gave me. It is with all humility and respect for the work already in place that I would try to contribute to the development of this club. Many players from Avignon and Vaucluse have gone through the Catalans Dragons, or other English professional clubs, which testifies to the quality of training in this club and in those of the PACA region.” Jouffret is father of Louis, who has recently signed for Ottawa Aces from Featherstone.

St Esteve confirm squad

Catalans’ reserve side St Esteve have confirmed that promising half-back Cesar Rouge will play for them in the upcoming Elite 1 Championship, having joined the club from Limoux. He has been training with the Dragons first team on trial in recent months. Former Dragons winger Justin Murphy has taken over as coach, with fellow former players Mathias Pala (strength and conditioning) and Julien Touxagas (manager) also on the staff. The squad includes a handful of players with Super League experience, including 25-year-old Ugo Perez, who played eight games for the Dragons and has also had spells on loan at Whitehaven and Toulouse.

Squad: Alan Baby, Robin Brochon, Louis Carré, Tiaki Chan, Lotfy Cherifi, Jordan Dezaria, Jordan Flovie, Romain Franco, Jayson Goffin, Lucas Jampy, Maxime Jobe, Romain Khedimi, Léo Laurent, Léo Llong, Alexis Meresta-Doucet, Arthur Nunez, Cédric Payrou, Ugo Perez, Lucas Ribas, César Rougé, Hugo Salabio, Bastien Scimone, Ugo Tison, Florian Vailhen, Valentin Zafra

Albi strengthen with Aussie prop

Albi have signed Australian prop Ben Shea. Shea, 33, has played 99 games in the Queensland Cup including just one in 2020 for Redcliffe Dolphins due to the pandemic. He strengthens an Albi pack that has lost Josh Coyle, Maxime Garcia and Gaeten Estruga over the off-season.

No go for Sauiluma?

Ex-Canberra centre Sami Sauiluma looks set to cancel his move to Villeneuve for personal reasons. Sauiluma, 29, played 18 games in the NRL for the Raiders and Cronulla, although his last appearance came in 2015. The two-time Queensland Cup winner was due to link up with the Leopards ahead of the new season and was tipped to be a leading star.

Villegas retires

Former Toulouse half-back Constant Villegas has hung up his boots at the age of 33. Villegas played for Toulouse in their previous stint in the Championship back in 2009 and 2010, and has since gone on to play more than 100 games for Villeneuve. He said: “I would have liked to finish with a full season like other players, I could have done one more season but at the start (coach) Fabien no longer needed me, after a few weeks we talked and things had changed so I could have done one more season. In the end, this situation allowed me to make the decision to stop.” Villegas also won five caps for France.

Fourth Serbian arrives at Carpentras

Elite 2 side Carpentras have signed young Serbian international centre Rajo Trifunovic. Trifunovic, 22, has been playing with Red Star Belgrade but will now link up with compatriots Zoran Pesic, Danilo Delic and Nebosja Zivanovic in the French competition.

New season

The French Elite 1 Championship seasons gets underway on October 31. The opening round of fixtures are: Carcassonne v Albi, Avignon v Lezignan, Toulouse v St Gaudens, Villeneuve v Palau, Limoux v St Esteve.

About James Gordon 7152 Articles
Love Rugby League editor. Founded the website back in 2005. Worked with a range of clubs and sponsors during that time. Also commentates for BBC.

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