The 2015 Kingstone Press Championship is certainly set to be an intriguing season. You’d have thought after Toulouse Olympique’s exit from the second tier of British rugby at the end of 2011, French spectators would be few and far between. But this year will see a higher number of French players in the Championship than in recent years, possibly increasing the interest of the Championship for people over the other side of the English Channel. Three high-class internationals; Remy Marginet, William Barthau and Jean-Philippe Baile will be donning the jerseys of Featherstone Rovers, London Broncos and Bradford Bulls respectively. Here’s the lowdown on the three players..
Remy Marginet – Featherstone Rovers: Signed on trial from Palau Broncos in the Elite One Championship. Marginet plays at scrum-half and is most recently known for being the top points scorer in the 2014 European Championships, accumulating 48 points in three matches. The French international has never played domestic rugby in England despite signing for Hemel Stags in 2012 after a failed period at premier French club Catalans Dragons. Marginet complained of home-sickness and was terminated from his contract at Hemel. Despite this, he’s been in fine fettle since he left the Stags and if his trial goes as well as people are tipping, he’s sure to go down well at the Big Fellas Stadium.
William Barthau – London Broncos: Signed from Catalans Dragons in Super League. Barthau has been tipped for big things in spite of dropping down a division to play for the Broncos. He was given his debut for the French national team at the age of 20, coming off the bench against England. At that time, he hadn’t played his first game for Catalans. Barthau went on to play 22 games for the Dragons, and represent France at three major tournaments over a five year period. Appearances in both the 2010 and 2014 European Championships, along with the 2013 World Cup, makes Barthau a trustworthy pick for France coach Richard Agar. A blow for the Broncos, however, is that the scrum-half sustained a knee injury against Ireland in the aforementioned 2014 European Cup. The injury will leave Barthau out for several months. When he makes his comeback though, don’t be surprised to see him dominate games in the Championship with a very tidy kicking game.
Jean Philippe Baile – Bradford Bulls: Signed from Catalans Dragons in Super League. A muscular centre, and one that will cause havoc in the Championship. Baile has been part of the France international setup since the 2008 World Cup when he debuted. Having played 79 games for Catalans in Super League, Baile brings to Bradford a healthy amount of appearances at the top level. The new Bulls recruit prefers playing in the centre position but can also fit into the second row and even at hooker, providing outstanding utility. The physical aspect that Baile brings to the game will go down a treat with the Provident Stadium faithful, one player that’s destined to be a hit in the Championship.
I wish good luck to the three Frenchmen featured in their respective seasons. The talent that’s on show in the Championship this season is astounding, Marginet, Barthau and Baile certainly add to it.