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  1. Was a dreary day Sunday with snow on the Pic de Noire. Where rock bottom Toulouse Broncos going to be worth a look at Domec was the question. They’d taken on average 30 plus points in their first ten games. Before I’d taken my seat they were already a try down. Miloudi in his element again just fly swatting his markers with ease. It was a point a minute up to half an hour with just bit of light relief for the visitors with a nicely worked try from half back Bouscayrol.. TO’s reserves are having a hard time of it. Would it be worthwhile seeing the game out I thought. That old Australian war horse Aaron Woods is their coach and his have time talk woke them up fortunately. They’re a young out fit and were brushed a side far too easily by a bigger more experienced ASC but responded well eventually in this one. Ok it finished 46-22 but they drew the second half showing they’ve got some improvement in them I reckon as the second phase unfolds. They’ve picked up a few overseas lads via the chaotic Montpellier set-up. Backrower Murphy has arrived from the Queensland Cup and he was directing players around the park. Half back Nay showed up well and got their second try while their big no8 Pelesasa also showed up well too – maybe Championship contenders coach Houles might look to draft in one or two of these come springtime. Interesting too that there were four lads there involved- Bouscayrol and Quemener for Toulouse plus Albert and Tovena for ASC who last year were in the Dragons U19s Academy set-up. Super League club hasn’t retained them but they've gone straight to playing senior Elite 1 football at the local level. Encouraging.
  2. Poster boy Lucas Albert on home territory at Verzeille Saturday night for the annual meeting of the Dragons Lauquet Supporters club. From nearby Carcassonne a coach load takes supporters to their home games in Perpignan. Albert’s home village is just a drop kick away from Verzeille – the first railway stop out of Carca on the way up the scenic Aude valley. A returning Mickael Simon also local to this area having played at Limoux earlier. Great to see emblematic Alex Chan back too as Football manager at Brutus in 2017.
  3. Remember Rodney Howe back in 2006. To wake them-up got them in the sea at Canet before day break. They turned-over Wire the week after too.
  4. Catalans spent last three days and two nights learning to be firemen in Perpignan. Seemed to be put through the mill too. Sam Moa and Jason Baitieri appear to lead them home.
  5. Catalans have certainly pushed the boat out. Can’t knock their ambition either from day one when Stacey Jones arrived. At least ten Kangaroos have worn the sang-et-or and nearly all their Kwi signings had played for NZ. Too many of the former lasted only one season Ryles, Johnson, Taylor and Stewart. Two of the oldest Croker and Menzies were great. Uncapped Greenshields, Mogg, McGuire and Henderson great servants too.
  6. Catalans U19s Academy 2017 squad announced Yann Belmaaziz (Baho) Kevin Benet (Ille) Sébastien Bled (Baho) Tom Bonillo (XIII Catalan) Cameron Chamorin (ESR) Grith Dauliac (USAP) Luc Delor (Entraigues) David Demacedo (Entraigues) Thibaud Franck (XIII Catalan) Luc Franco (ESR) Georgy Gambaro (MJC Carcassonne) Maxime Garcia (XIII Catalan) Thomas Gibert (ESR) Guillaume Gorka (Paris Charenton) Mathieu Laguerre (Marseille) Théo Lardot (Marseille) Corentin Le Cam (XIII Catalan) Ugo Martin (ESR) Clément Meunier (XIII Catalan) Arthur Mourgues (Avignon) Romain Pallares (USAP) Thomas Pelletier (XIII Catalan) Brice Pena (ESR) Thomas Perez (ESR) Barthelemy Rouge (Limoux) Maxence Sabathier (ESR) Bastien Scimone (ESR) Alric Sibieude (Ille) Florian Vailhen (Entraigues) Lucas Vergniol (Villeneuve sur Lot) Samirdine Youssouf (Marseille) Half a dozen from Provence there and first time a lad from Paris. Famous name too in Chamorin - wonder if related to the wonderfully gifted Pierre Chamorin who regaled us all at PSG.
  7. To me a key issue in the game today ( or any day). The Top 14 over here reveals the same scenario. In Barcelona this year full house at Nou Camp 90,000 plus. Toulon may be brought 9000 and Racing club Paris what 4000. It happens I think every year; participating clubs never bring the numbers that say Leeds-Wigan did in 2015 to OT even recognising the proximity. Thousands from all over rhe rugby loving south-west poured over the Spanish border last June. Real challenge for rugby league in general.
  8. Toulouse Olympique Table Ovale celebrates here 20th anniversary this past week. Over 300 attend representing both public and private concerns in the city. Hopefully the movers and shakers who will help to propel the club upwards and onwards to their ultimate goals. Journey started with that Challenge Cup semi final against Leeds at Huddersfield in 2005 – then three terms in the Championship before in 2009-11. Followed by back-to-back Elite 1 Championship titles for the first time before returning across the Channel this year yet again to claim a Championship return at the first attempt. “ This Story is Ours!”
  9. Alan - in todays paper it says Limoux's U15 are playing in Hull this Easter - excellent news.
  10. It's difficult to imagine Toulouse ever returning to the French competition. It hurt them a lot returning last time after 2009-11 in the Championship. SL or bust from now on. After all its been their clarion call loud now for more than a decade. The competition in the city from other sports involved nationally/internationlly is just too much? The game I saw a few weeks back at Carcassonne v Dragons U23s was excellent fayre. 34 French lads, lots of youngsters too with the experience of former Dragons players covering from previous overseas recruits. Whats not to like. The immediate goal I reckon here is to make a big push to increase the number of teams at U15 and U17 levels - a priority. Last week Champions Limoux failed to put out a team at U20 level at Perpignan - I understand they havent had an U17 side in the last three years. Yes disappointed that Cathares won't be locking horns with the Dragons in 2017. Last two years super occaisons with 6000 in attendance each time. The hope must that the Cathares (and Avignon) get a Challenge Cup gig instead. Any news forthcoming on that from the RFL yet?
  11. Dragons U23 impressively competitive again Sunday at leaders Lezignan going down by just a penalty goal difference (28-26). They’ve done well too against both the two other Aude sides also – who yet again dominate the comp. This year an improvement on the chaotic format last term. Although the top half of the ladder is established there seems some improvement below which is encouraging. Promoted St Gaudens won in Perpignan and turned up at Avignon at the weekend losing (38-20). Villeneuve made ASC work hard Saturday on the banks of the Lot too (14-25) and are better than last time out. Palau down to 12 early doors responded well under Elima's leadership at Albi going down (44-26). The other week the Tarn side lost by a whisker at Avignon too – the Vaucluse out-fit the only side to lower the autumn champions FCL colours thus far. Winter break now till the ‘retour' rounds commence on the second weekend of January.
  12. Appears they've decided to make their HQ here in Carcassonne. They held their AGM there yesterday. Good to see the Toulouse Chairman Sarrazain present too. The Tricolores, Dragons, TO and the Elite 1 et al hand in glove should be the goal. Khedimi vice-President to Palanques and right hand man to Guasch with fellow Dragons official Arcens responsible for Elite 1. It will have to be worked at but they've never had this potential since Catalans entered SL in 2006.
  13. Alan - I think I read somewhere that the famous Puig Aubert believed in avoiding PTBs at all costs! The French side I first saw at St Helens in 1958 was a complete revelation with ball movement extraordinary. Is it at all possible that the real, old 'French Flair' of yesteryear will ever see the light of day again? At least Alberola is trying to give it a go at the ASC!
  14. I think this on Saturday 21 January at Blagnac KO 4pm TO-Dragons. Catalans at home to Wigan the following week KO 5pm.Toulouse just one confirmed warm up game before Batley arrive?
  15. Bit disappointed with Avignon’s effort Saturday at Carcassonne conceding 8 tries in a 42-18 loss. Too many cheap penalties early on hurt SOA and the Canaris made them pay. Twenty unanswered points up to the break. Have to say impressed by the hosts who are playing a very open and expansive game with Miloudi the competitions form player of the moment. Another who stood out was this lad Pomie whos suddenly arrived on the scene. Where’s he from? Visitors nearly got back into it with two converted scores soon after break but then fell away again to be well second best. Cameo appearance from Goudemand at lock for visitors - just one impressive line break but not much more. He still looks class though - otherwise he wouldn't be in Colognis Tricolores long term plans. Still SOA are the only team to have lowered Lezignans colours so far as the Corbiere out-fit finish as the autumn champions and the ones to beat in the spring for the title I reckon. ASC only lost by a 2 last week in the bath that was the Moulin – could be between these two come Narbonne in June. Champions Limoux – who couldn’t raise an U20s team at the weekend in Perpignan - seem to have lost their way a bit but they’ve picked up more injuries than the others I think. Dragons U23s turned them over at St Esteve fielding half a dozen of last years Academy side. Jerome Guisset has utlised 26 players already this term – as is their raison d’etre.