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French RL Elite One at crisis point

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Reports in the papers in France that 2 more clubs my drop out of Elite 1 leaving only 7 clubs. It appears Pia are beyond the 11th hour with star player Maxime Gresque signing for ASC. Albi clubs appear to want to play in Elite 2.

Some talk of Palau Broncos moving up to Elite 1. Palau is about 8 miles South of Perpigan

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What's gone wrong at Pia? I thought they were backed by the local council.

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Didn't Pia just win the league? Spending beyond their means?

Some clubs seem really well run in France, with fairly big crowds and great local interest. Others seem to go from crisis to crisis. What's actually the issue? Is it a lack of quality teams?

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From what I can gather (off rugbyxiiiforum) the Pia situation Is not simply a matter of overspending. Apparently, the Ambert family (which has pretty much run Pia for years) is in dispute with the federation and Mark Ambert has been suspended. With the Ambert's largely gone, there's a bit of a leadership vacuum. Furthermore, there's a dispute between the local Mayor (who has been a big supporter of the club) and his deputy, which is putting the level of funding the club is used to in extreme jeopardy. That's not to say, they haven't splashed out too much cash on foreigners because they probably have but there are multiple factors at play. At least that's what I can gather, Audois or Cliff I'm sure would know more.

On the plus side, I've just read that Palau have agreed to step up to the Elite 1. They have won Elite 2 for the past two seasons and are probably more likely to be competitive than say, Lescure, who struggled at this level. But they, like Pia, are a small Catalan village. The difference is they don't shell out big dollars on overseas players and have some quality ex-Dragons players on the books (Berthezene, Touxagas). I think at this stage, when you could have as few as six starters in Elite 1 next season (Villeneuve reportedly in some financial stress as well), you'll take any club who can compete at this level, even if it is a small village team.

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Isn't this always the way in French RL?

Take "French" out of that sentence and it's even more accurate.

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Isn't this always the way in French RL?

I think you're right. In the last decade just in the Aude all three clubs have nearly gone under some more than once. You have some better off clubs who are wanting to push the boat out money wise. A few try to to follow. But of late too many say they had enough & say we'll stay in elite 2 or N1. Zalduendo has stated I think that the Federation will not accept three clubs in the Tarn in elite 2. Think that will be resolved by the 20th June. Albi should stay there with the promoted Realmont I understand.

Interesting that the other Catalan elite 2 club Baho are better structured than Palau. I think around 300 licenses with fully structured set-up & budget to match of €300,000. There's lots of ideas floating around. A mate of mine said that elite 2 should take over elite 1! But I recognise where he is coming from.

What is the point though of any chairmen here with a bit of money & ambition wanting to win an elite national competition which is stuck not just in one region but a couple of departments. Somebody needs to look at the bigger picture.

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I think you're right. In the last decade just in the Aude all three clubs have nearly gone under some more than once. You have some better off clubs who are wanting to push the boat out money wise. A few try to to follow. But of late too many say they had enough & say we'll stay in elite 2 or N1. Zalduendo has stated I think that the Federation will not accept three clubs in the Tarn in elite 2. Think that will be resolved by the 20th June. Albi should stay there with the promoted Realmont I understand.

Interesting that the other Catalan elite 2 club Baho are better structured than Palau. I think around 300 licenses with fully structured set-up & budget to match of €300,000. There's lots of ideas floating around. A mate of mine said that elite 2 should take over elite 1! But I recognise where he is coming from.

Not quite sure what you mean there?!

What is the point though of any chairmen here with a bit of money & ambition wanting to win an elite national competition which is stuck not just in one region but a couple of departments. Somebody needs to look at the bigger picture.

Maybe they could do with a licensing system?

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and with that lobby goes into a state of apoplexy...........

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All these people who question the French presence in Super League should be made to read this thread at least twice and, if the penny still hasn't dropped, they need to book into some evening classes!

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THats bad news about Pia.

 

I liked the idea of this new league in France, though its fallen thorugh. I would like to see a regional summer competition come through through, complimentry to the current Elite. A ten team comp could pretty much go ahead tomorrow with the elite or lower teams in the area playing as combined, maybe it would give some more presence in the National media. I remember a few years back they were going to run a festival type competition in some bigger French cities.

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Morgan escare the biggest talent out of France I have seen since Catalans into superleague.

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I don't agree that a couple if token teams playing in the superleague is the best way forwards for the French game. As mentioned above, talent has rarely been a problem for the French, professionalism and management of the game have always hindered them. Superleague is hardly a nursery for sound business principles is it. I think teams like Toulouse and catalan offer more to superleague than the other way around, granted Catalan make a lot of revenue from travelling fans, but a strong league in France, with the exposure which comes with it would see the French capable of beating England at international level within just a few years. Superleague clubs have been slow to take up French kids despite having years to recruit them.

What I'm saying is why aim to be a revenue generator for a struggling superleague when you could build a better model?

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I don't agree that a couple if token teams playing in the superleague is the best way forwards for the French game. As mentioned above, talent has rarely been a problem for the French, professionalism and management of the game have always hindered them. Superleague is hardly a nursery for sound business principles is it. I think teams like Toulouse and catalan offer more to superleague than the other way around, granted Catalan make a lot of revenue from travelling fans, but a strong league in France, with the exposure which comes with it would see the French capable of beating England at international level within just a few years. Superleague clubs have been slow to take up French kids despite having years to recruit them.

What I'm saying is why aim to be a revenue generator for a struggling superleague when you could build a better model?

Did you read the rest of this thread? The m

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I don't agree that a couple if token teams playing in the superleague is the best way forwards for the French game. As mentioned above, talent has rarely been a problem for the French, professionalism and management of the game have always hindered them. Superleague is hardly a nursery for sound business principles is it. I think teams like Toulouse and catalan offer more to superleague than the other way around, granted Catalan make a lot of revenue from travelling fans, but a strong league in France, with the exposure which comes with it would see the French capable of beating England at international level within just a few years. Superleague clubs have been slow to take up French kids despite having years to recruit them.

What I'm saying is why aim to be a revenue generator for a struggling superleague when you could build a better model?

Did you read the rest of this thread? The modest semi-pro league France already has is failing. France needs a larger Super League presence. Talk of a fully pro French league is insane!

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Which is why I mentioned that I liked the idea of the proposed French league. The idea. Didn't say it was going to happen off the bat.

But don't kid yourself, superleague is a failure as a business, it hasn't grown since the mid 2000s. Look at the progress similar sports have made in less time, the people running the leagues are a laughing stock by comparison .

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It would be criminal if players like Escaré didn't have a route to a decent competition and were lost to the game. Wonder how many more are out there..?

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"There's lots of ideas floating around. A mate of mine said that elite 2 should take over elite 1! But I recognise where he is coming from."

Wellsy - that was just a throw away line. Getting enough sides at elite 2 is no problem. As I say the Fed President is trying to keep certain teams out. They're kind of queing up because they can handle it. Interestingly I hear today that Albi where Eric Anselme is player/coach has picked up a PNG hooker from Queensland Cup, two union blokes from Federal 1 (which is level one below Pro2)one a Tongan and picked off a few from neighbours Lescure & Realmont. Sounds of progress up there.Worth remembering that Albi pulled 10,000 for that 4N crunch match with Wales a few seasons back. If Toulouse get the nod for SL they should consider playing some matches there. There still a strong treize culture in the Tarn even if Castres have just won the Top 14 thing.

Re-licensing yes because a couple of clubs just dwarf everybody else & thus keeping potential participants at bay; but would be surprised if it happened.

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But don't kid yourself, superleague is a failure as a business, it hasn't grown since the mid 2000s.

I think that is true, but the lack of growth isn't bad management IMHO. Once you have got your big clubs sat on big areas of RL resource you are very quickly into smaller clubs having to be admitted to join them in the same area. Hull/HKR, Cas/Wakey Fartown/Bradford Widnes/Wire.

The Lyndsay hope was investors would come on board and provide us with London, Wales, Newcastle (then onto Rome etc) even a second london club was talked about by Lewis.OK sports investors have had every chance to invest relatively modest sums (against soccer) to do our game the favour of growing it in new areas by chucking at least a couple of million a year for 20 years at regional SL clubs, but have chosen not to.

So clubs scheduled to amalgamate to ensure maximisation of resources have stayed seperate and continue to battle for the same resources of fans and players thus stunting growth. Les Catalans have come up with 10,000 French fans and a good number of quality players thus increasing the resources, adding Toulouse to this would help in the same way, as would the heavy investment in Salford/Manchester.

Removing les Cats from ESL for a French FSL would simply stretch resources beyond the pale...

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Albi should be in elite decent city size and league stronghold.

If SL goes on to develop as an anglo french comp who next?

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Albi should be in elite decent city size and league stronghold.

 

Again I don't see it as a stronghold, but it has a presence.

 

In terms of playing strength at junior level they used (may still be) to be partnered/run exchanges and hold competitive matches with Stanley Rangers, one of the many amateur clubs in Wakefield.  Similarly Toulouse had (may still have for all I know) pretty much the same twinning with Dewsbury Moor, one of the many amateur clubs in the Heavy Woollen district.

 

One issue for me is that even in what here consider to be the French strongholds the professional clubs are not supported by a network of lots of amateur clubs in their immediate area.

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One issue for me is that even in what here consider to be the French strongholds the professional clubs are not supported by a network of lots of amateur clubs in their immediate area.

 

wrong - everything is relative, you say 'immediate area' well France is a big country compared to England and the french heartlands covers a vast area again, compared to England

as Catalan is the lone french  SL represenative every other LER team is effectively a feeder club so if/when Toulouse joins the SL ranks then all the  LER clubs will be feeding two SL clubs

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See, this is what I worry about with Toulouse. The Marie (?) will supposedly be big funders for Toulouse in SL. But is there a contract, a guaranteed level of funding for x years? Otherwise who can say that the next Mayor won't pull the plug or somesuch?

 

Furthermore, there's a dispute between the local Mayor (who has been a big supporter of the club) and his deputy, which is putting the level of funding the club is used to in extreme jeopardy.

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wrong - everything is relative, you say 'immediate area' well France is a big country compared to England and the french heartlands covers a vast area again, compared to England

as Catalan is the lone french  SL represenative every other LER team is effectively a feeder club so if/when Toulouse joins the SL ranks then all the  LER clubs will be feeding two SL clubs

 

Maybe, but my point is that every semi-pro rugby league club in England is supported by a network of amateur clubs.  In France it would appear that Albi as a City is represented by one semi-pro club and no other amateur clubs.  If it were ever to make the grade (and I'm using it at an theoretical example as I have no grasp on how big they are these days) and have SL ambitions, it's supporting network will be the other semi-pro clubs rather than a local network of junior clubs providing a conveyer belt of young players.

 

Again, I may be wrong, but my impression of both Toulouse and Albi is that they are one club cities, and that in French RL there is no real equivalent of the Pennine League, the Yorkshire League, the Cumbrian League, NL3, conferences etc.  

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