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audois

Sporting Olympique Avignon

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Returned home with the Lord Derby Cup for the first time in nearly quarter of a century last week. Received by the Mayoress at the city hall. SOA have returned from far. One of the games big names which had fallen on hard times. Their success built around local talent. They regularly provide youngsters to the French teams. Four are in the U18s playing England Academy tomorrow. On the photos some may recognise Younis Khattabi who played & scored a try against Saints at Wembley in 2007.Also their coach Renaud Guigue who played full back for the Dragons in their first season (standing next to each other far right) The stand out player though in the Cup Final was an Australian Ray Nasso who hopes to play for Italy in the WC this Autumn. Talking of which Avignon is really excited about hosting the World Champions at the local Parc des Sports in November. Already seven thousand tickets sold with the hope of a full house may be up towards 17,000. The game in the Vaucluse back in the spotlight.

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No wonder they won, there's hundreds of them.

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Bloody good news, strong Avignon much needed in FRL

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Be great if they could get a home draw against Wigan next season.

Perhaps the challenge cup could benefit from a pool stage like the Heineken cup

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Is Patrick Entat still involved with SOA these days?

Whilst a legend as a player at SOA Entat saw his reputation as a local hero severely dented when he was held responsible by many for the collapse of the Grand Avignon project some years ago. Grand Avignon had been formed as a separate entity in the Elite with SOA, and two other local clubs Morieres and Entraigues. All kept their separate identities, with Grand Avignon being the Elite team in the LER. Entat coached the team and he brought in many players from outside, allegedly spending money that the new club did not have. Grand Avignon reached a Cup Final which they lost. But financial collapse occurred soon afterwards with other allegations concerning Entat. So the clubs who in theory "owned" Grand Avignon reverted back to what they had been, Moriers being a highly successful Junior club for example. SOA had not had a great say in day to day operations, though nominally they were part owners. But they suffered most from the fall out of money owed by Grand Avignon to various creditors. They suffered from the irresponsible management and operation of Grand Avignon, finding it hard to attract sponsors. So for a period they reverted back to what they were famous for, producing and developing youngsters. For a while they did not run a senior team. The Senior team restarted eventually in the lower divisions, building on an excellent junior team, before eventually getting back to the Elite. But they did it cautiously, sensibly to the point where they are today , one of France's best run clubs. Hence my comments in a previous posting that they were aware of the image created by the financially disastrous Grand Avignon project. That was not SOA's doing but it did cast a shadow. It is a joy to se the progress made since those dark days and the club will continue to develop in a real treiziste hotbed. But they will not run before they can walk. An excellent example of how to do it.

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A wonderful part of the world I have visited many many times. To watch rugby there would be just wonderful

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Great to hear such positive news

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Thanks Cliff.

I'm off to Provence (Nice) in a few weeks. Is there any RL there?

Wish there was as I love Nice. Nearby Cannes (worth a visit outside film time by local bus or train) has had teams at senior level in the past. The most notable was over a  decade or so ago when Cannes  under Coach Steve Deakin won the Elite 2 Championship but were refused promotion to the LER due to lack of Juniors. But don't exist today. At Nice the Vallauris club has appeared from time to time at junior level but is currently dormant. The strength in Provence is in the  east of the region, the Vaucluse and Bouches du Rhone Departments where you have SOA, Carpentras, Cavaillon, Entraigues, Vedene, Apt, Cheval Blanc, St. Martin de Crau, Marseille, RC Salon and Arles. An interesting newcomer was ST Toulon a treiziste section of Toulon RU.

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Worth mentioning too that four young lads from Avignon are presently playing out in Australia Garcia, Gigot, Bonnet and now Noel Andreucetti in Perth. All developing their games which one day further down the line could benefit SOA.

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Was the Lord Derby Cup televised? Was the championship final televised? And what were the scores/results/crowd for both matches? Thanks!

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Was the Lord Derby Cup televised? Was the championship final televised? And what were the scores/results/crowd for both matches? Thanks!

No television for Cup Final 6500 crowd in Carcassonne. Avignon 36-35 Limoux

Championship Final Pia 34-26 St Esteve in Perpignan. L'Equipe TV showed full match live . New channel & free to air but not available yet throughout the country. Crowd 6700.

Elite 2 Final between Palau 26-22 Baho also in Perpignan.Crowd 4500.

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Is Joris Bissiere still a starting player for SOA?

Yes, he played stand off in the Cup Final. I think he's a key player in their development. They lost mid season though two important players. Tony Gigot who was playing hooker took himself off to Australia where he's playing reserve grade at Cronulla and a more than decent Kiwi scrum half Meads who went back home early. SOA caught the media attention too as you can see here..

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audois, on 28 May 2013 - 20:28, said:

No television for Cup Final 6500 crowd in Carcassonne. Avignon 36-35 Limoux

Championship Final Pia 34-26 St Esteve in Perpignan. L'Equipe TV showed full match live . New channel & free to air but not available yet throughout the country. Crowd 6700.

Elite 2 Final between Palau 26-22 Baho also in Perpignan.Crowd 4500.

Thanks Audois! They all look like excellent games. What a shame the cup final wasn't telecast ! Where was BEin Sport ???

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Yes, he played stand off in the Cup Final. I think he's a key player in their development. They lost mid season though two important players. Tony Gigot who was playing hooker took himself off to Australia where he's playing reserve grade at Cronulla and a more than decent Kiwi scrum half Meads who went back home early. SOA caught the media attention too as you can see here..

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rl on the front page of the sunday vaucluse? Wow!

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Thanks Audois! They all look like excellent games. What a shame the cup final wasn't telecast ! Where was BEin Sport ???

Jim, they're are concentrating on SL & NRL for the time being and doing a really good job. But we want them to put some real money up front which could facilitate Toulouse's possible entry into Europes elite competition. How good would it be to follow that with Avignon in time. That could give us up to six French derby games in SL. Could be the turning point here media wise. SL for the moment is just seen by the French as an English competition unfortunately unlike the Heineken Cup. We're still waiting with baited breath to hear something about the TV coverage for the WC. Here's hoping.

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rl on the front page of the sunday vaucluse? Wow!

Robin, the big thing in their favour with Avignon is that they haven't the direct rugby union competition that both Catalans & Toulouse have. Even their Ligue 2 soccer side Arles-Avignon only pull around 2,000 crowds. I think they're pushing against an open door up there in Provence as the recent international crowds may indicate.

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Robin, the big thing in their favour with Avignon is that they haven't the direct rugby union competition that both Catalans & Toulouse have. Even their Ligue 2 soccer side Arles-Avignon only pull around 2,000 crowds. I think they're pushing against an open door up there in Provence as pthe recent international crowds may indicate.

We really need a proper long term strategy for increasing the French representation in Super League. In the short term, it'd be great to get more French lads playing elsewhere in SL and NRL, alongside those in the Dragons' squad.

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what are the chances of avignon been a super league club how far off are the club been a serious posistion to compete for a place, whats the stadium like good enough for super league if not any plans for improvement ect, what potential crowds could this club get if accepted into the league. along with the dragons and hopefully toulose in super league it would be great to have 1 or 2 more full time french clubs in our secound tier if changes to our structure happens  

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Robin, the big thing in their favour with Avignon is that they haven't the direct rugby union competition that both Catalans & Toulouse have. Even their Ligue 2 soccer side Arles-Avignon only pull around 2,000 crowds. I think they're pushing against an open door up there in Provence as the recent international crowds may indicate.

There are four of us....francophiles that adored our weekend in toulouse with fev..

We are looking at doing a jolly boys outing to watch some french rl. We may well have a gander at avignon!

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what are the chances of avignon been a super league club how far off are the club been a serious posistion to compete for a place, whats the stadium like good enough for super league if not any plans for improvement ect, what potential crowds could this club get if accepted into the league. along with the dragons and hopefully toulose in super league it would be great to have 1 or 2 more full time french clubs in our secound tier if changes to our structure happens

SOA have only had I think three seasons back in Elite 1. A lot their enthusiasm has been built by the ability to draw impressive five figure crowds to the international matchs. These are held in the cities Parc des Sports venue which is used also by the soccer team. SOA play at the nearby Stade Rufus which has an artifical pitch. Only a few crowds would pull four figures which is the norm in Elite 1.

There is a strong tradition still for the code not just in Avignon but in the surrounding areas. Its why there are lots of youngsters being developed at clubs like Carpentras, Cavillion, Salon, Entraigues et al. Of course they are building momentum with the Cup win so will be interesting how they go in future years. The CEO at Catalan Dragons Christophe Jouffret has close ties with Avignon & I'm sure would have discussed possibilities of a Super League candidature further down the line. Catalan, Toulouse & Avignon represent three seperate distinctive regions. Three potential hubs around which for me the code can regenerate itself. If ever the day arrived it could give us 6 European SL derbys - a mouth watering prospect.

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