Connect with us

Catalans Dragons

OPINION: Catalans would be a huge loss to Super League but relegation should remain

In February 2006 Catalans Dragons broke new ground in Super League when they became only the second French team to join the competition.

The Dragons beat Wigan Warriors 38-30 on a memorable night in Perpignan and is a fixture which will always hold a place in the history books.

Catalans were the newest franchise to be granted a place in Super League and despite not getting results in their inaugural season, they quickly became a force to be reckoned with in the competition.

The French side made the Challenge Cup final in 2007 where they lost to St Helens at Wembley and finished third in the league in 2008.

They have consistently made the play-offs since and were just 80 minutes away from their first Grand Final in 2014.

Now, this Saturday, following a terrible season on the field, Catalans find themselves in the Million Pound Game with Leigh Centurions and relegation to the Championship is a real prospect.

There can be no excuses for either side at the weekend. Both sides have underperformed this campaign, with two of the worst defences in the competition and both having struggled in the Qualifiers.

Catalans have also lost their impregnable home record this season, winning just five of their 15 home fixtures with teams no longer fearing a trip to Perpignan.

The thought of losing the French side is worrying for Super League and would surely hinder the continued development and popularity of the sport in the south of France.

The Dragons are one of Super League’s biggest success stories and there’s no doubting that relegation would be damaging for the club.

With life in the Championship bringing in less money, job losses on and off the field are inevitable, the development of young French players will be damaged and attendances could dwindle.

Hull KR have proved this season that promotion back the following season is possible but as we’ve seen over the years across many sports it is no guarantee.

This raises the inevitable question of should the Rugby Football League reinstate the licensing system to prevent the loss of franchises from the elite competition.

The introduction of the Super 8s in 2015 has brought many advantages, not least the end of dead rubber end of season fixtures, but it also has its critics.

The glamorisation of the Million Pound Game, where players’ livelihoods are on the line, is one and the promotion of a fixture in which a loss has such a detrimental effect on the club is unpopular.

However, it integrates a promotion and relegation format which is paramount in any sport to engage excitement and drama at the bottom of the table and ensures that survival is just as important as success.

Ultimately sport is decided on the field and while Saturday’s game will be unpleasant for the players, staff and fans of both sides, the drama of the occasion is what generates the excitement and interest in the sport.

Bringing back the old system of awarding clubs licenses would be a step backwards for Super League.

Whichever side loses on Saturday will rightfully be worried about the future direction of their club but promotion and survival should be earned and rewarded on the field not by executives in offices.

For Catalans, this is the biggest 80 minutes in the club’s 11 year history.

Trainee sports journalist at News Associates, Manchester, UK.


More in Catalans Dragons

Translate »
%d bloggers like this: