Sylvain Houles the Toulouse Olympique cup/league winning coach has spent the last week at the HJ Stadium shadowing Tony Smith and his backroom staff. Houles who played SL at Huddersfield and London Broncos has made a great start after taking over mid season from former France coach Gilles Dumas. Still no word from the French club about their SL aspirations; if the idea is they are to play in the new look Championship across the Channel in 2016 may be it would need a decision before the new 2015 campaign kicks off. Nothing in the latest RFL press releases about expansion. For me Toulouse go-ahead for 2016 to be given asap and why not Avignon for 2018.
Eloi Pelissier cuts such an efferescent figure in Catalan country whether on home territory up the Agly Valley at St Paul, the family Pizza shop at Canet Plage or on the field at Brutus. This week he has been followed on his jaunts by a Bein Sports Television crew doing a profile on one of the Dragons treasured jewels; the 22 year old hooker is on the verge of becoming the youngest ever Dragons player to reach 100 appreances for the club. They'll show the piece prior to their live coverage of the Wigan game tomorrow night. The French game depends entirely on Bein Sports to give the game visibility nationwide. These player profiles - they've done the same with Escare,Whitehead,Williams, Bosc & Duport too - valuable to raise the Dragons & the games profile this side of the Channel.
Catalans continue to press the right buttons as these images here portray. Past linking with the future.Hundreds attend the inauguration of the new west stand behind the posts at Brutus last weekend. Not only the stand re-named the Puig Aubert Tribune but other parts of the complex too. The mayor of Perpignan present and the leader of the County Council (Department) also. Bernard Guasch in his element both at Brutus and later at the 80th birthday celebration of the XIII Catalan club - one of the founders which became the Dragons. This event took place at a local chateau and was attended by more than 1300 old and new plus a special guest in Keith Senoir preparing for his special bike ride back to Headingley. Looking at these events unfolding to me indicate how the club has grown and becoming a major sporting player in this part of France.
I was involved a bit at the Warriors in the early days of SRLC at the Prince of Wales Stadium in Cheltenham. It was just great yesterday afternoon for me to be able to listen in to a BBC commentary courtesy of Radio York for the KC1 match from that very same stadium and whats more got an exciting win (24-22) against one of the comps leaders. Lionel Hurst, Ruth Sigley , Stephen Rigby et al take a bow.
While further along the M4 the rugby league strong hold of Hemel Hempstead where putting another heartland side Oldham to the sword at Pennine Way. What a fascinating story is unfolding down south. Coventry next up.
Hear that there is a promotion tomorrow in Harrogate of the Tour de France linking it to Leeds-Catalan game to be played at Headingley a week before the 'Grande Boucle' gets under way in Yorkshire. Dragons players Scott Dureau & Brent Webb will be there representing the French club along with Kevin Sinfield and Jamie Peacock. Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish on their bikes too to present the players with specially designed shirts to be worn on match day - yellow top for Leeds and polka dot for Catalan. Nice touch. Lets have more of it.