Thomas Bosc is one of the greatest players France has ever produced, so we’ve paid tribute to the Catalans Dragons favourite…
The world of French rugby league has seen some exceptional talent grace the field with legends such as Puig Aubert, Raymond Contrastin and Jean Dop all making their mark on the game throughout history.
However, in recent times one player can now certainly be added among the list of French rugby league greats and that is Bosc.
Born in Perpignan, Bosc rose through the ranks of French Elite 1 Championship side Union Treiziste. XIII Catalans and AS Saint-Esteve merged clubs to create Union Treiziste.
Within five years they had won the French Championship and two Lord Derby Cups. However, in 2005, the club made the decision to apply to join the Super League.
In 2006, they competed in their inaugural season under the new franchise name Catalans Dragons with Union Teiziste acting as their reserve side in Elite 1.
Thomas Bosc makes his mark for Catalans Dragons
That 2006 season saw Bosc make his debut for Catalans against Castleford in what was only the Dragons’ third match in Super League.
Throughout the year, the then 22-year-old featured sporadically playing more as a full-back. In 12 appearances he would go on to score six tries despite the side finishing bottom of the table. The Dragons would come into the 2007 season fresh off a strong recruitment drive that included the likes of Clint Greenshields, Jason Croker, Aaron Gorrell and Casey McGuire.
The arrival of Greenshields would force Bosc onto the wing. Despite a struggle with injuries he would have his best campaign to date, scoring 13 tries in 22 appearances while kicking 68 goals and recording a total of 189 points.
The same year also saw Bosc and the Dragons etch their way into rugby league history by becoming the first non-British team to reach a Challenge Cup final. It may have ended in a crumbling defeat to a dominant St Helens side, but it was still a hugely significant moment in terms of the club’s short history.
Taking the mantle from Kiwi legend Stacey Jones
By 2008, Bosc finally got his opportunity to take on a more pivotal role in the halves after the retirement of New Zealand legend Stacey Jones.
The switch worked wonders as he took over the majority of kicking duties and helped steer his side to the Super League play-offs after finishing third on the ladder. The Dragons brilliantly saw off Warrington in the elimination play-off, with the French international scoring a try and kicking five conversions as Mick Potter’s side ran out 46-8 winners. Their run would be halted by a 56-20 defeat to Wigan in the next round though.
In 2011, Bosc took a step back in terms of production, primarily due to injury and because of the signing of Scott Dureau from Newcastle Knights in the NRL. After being restricted to just eight appearances that year, the creative half-back was back fully for 2012 but with Dureau still taking the goal-kicking role.
The 2013 season would see the versatile back once again take the primary kicking duties and from 2011 to 2014 he was key factor in the Dragons reaching four straight play-offs, making 74 appearances, scoring 17 tries, kicking 185 goals and tallying 445 points in that time span. The Dragons may have never gone on to secure silverware during Bosc’s playing career but what he was able to do was bring progress whilst potentially setting them up for future success.
Hanging up the boots as a French legend
By the end of his career in 2017 he had made 244 appearances, scoring 59 tries and recording 1,374 points during his time in the league whilst being a mainstay for France between 2007-13 on top of competing in two World Cups.
Although never a flashy or a prolific try-scorer, Bosc was as reliable and as consistent as they come. A versatile back whose creativity helped him excel in several different positions whether it was either full-back, wing, stand-off or scrum-half.
Altogether he finished as Catalans’ top points scorer and to this day he is the only Catalans player to record more than 1,000 points. Since their debut season in 2006, Bosc has been right there and played a significant part in some of their finest moments from steering them to their first-ever Super League play-offs to playing a vital role in the side becoming the first team outside of England to reach the Challenge Cup final before being an integral member of the Dragons coaching staff that helped guide the side to a historic Challenge Cup win in 2018.
Thomas Bosc: The maestro
During the 1940s and 1950s, the likes of Aubert, Contrastin and Dop lit up French rugby league during its golden years to cement their status as arguably three of their greatest performers. But even though Bosc was never part of a strong France national side, he was still one of its shining lights and most consistent performers for many years. He is easily considered one of the country’s greatest.
The Dragons’ entry to Super League remains one of the most significant moments of French rugby league and a man right at the centre of it all was the French maestro himself.