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audois

French Update

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Well we're ready for the off this weekend. Elite 1 & 2 twenty sides kind of melanged. Got 8 sides of decent level at the top and good to see former top clubs being involved further behind like Villefranche, St Gaudens, Albi, Carpentras and Lyon.

On paper you can't look further than Carcassonne at the moment. They landed a cup & league double in 2011 but what they've put together is the strongest line up I can remember. Picked the bones of now defunct Pia with internationals Greseque and Soubeyras heading to Domec and now got the two talented Khattabi brothers in tow too. Younes played at Wembley for the Dragons and brother Ismael has always threatened to do something.

Toulouse possibily their nearest threat. They are moving forward in lots of little ways and building. They've picked up the feisty Australian forward Wood as well as the two Bentley lads who will tough'en up. Ford and Vunakece still there hope to represent the Cooks and Fiji in the WC. Elsewhere cup holders Avignon will depend on their youngsters with a returning Gigot back on board. Offerdhal and Nasso Australians who should represent USA and Italy respectively this autumn there too.

Here in the Aude some tasty Derbys in view. Lezignan will still be there or abouts; picked up Stacul and Cooper from Pia. Up at Limoux a front row of Ferriol-McGuire-Temata will add lots of pepper and thats before Greenshields arrives for a cameo in late November. Promising.

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Can you keep an eye on how Danny Yates, a 19yo halfback from St Helens goes ?

Yates is listed in the team to play at Domec this evening for St Esteve. Strange one that.

Catalans play with seven who appeared for Dragons in SL this past season. ASC could struggle as they've got half a dozen missing with three out from suspensions carried over from last year including Pau and Anderson. Saddaoui big strapping lad and skipper forced into front line along side Bemba who's just returned from Oz winning a premiership with Orange in NSW Country footy. Re-Ferriol not in the 40 man squad.

Elite Budgets posted.

Carcassonne €1,2M

Toulouse €1,1M

Lezignan €800,000

St Esteve €600,000

Avignon €460,000

Limoux €425,000

Villeneuve €330,000

Palau €200,000

The latter a village of 3,000; Toulouse 4th city of France and Carcassonne town of 50,000.Avignon (pop. 90,000) may be not yet re-established up in Provence after years in wilderness.

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Can you keep an eye on how Danny Yates, a 19yo halfback from St Helens goes ?

He had a more than decent first run out; created several of the Catalans scores in a 26-23 win. Enjoyed the game even if the locals blew 19-0 half time lead. Always enjoy seeing the Catalan kids in action. Big second half efforts from forwards Springer,Garcia and Margalet. Other game at Limoux saw the hosts edge it 32-30 against a determined Villeneuve. Listened in opening minutes on the radio and thought it would be a blow out for Grizzlies but the visitors dug in and claimed a bonus point. Encouraging.

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Was speaking to M Deakin at the Catalans V Wire game and he said he thought Lezignan were the team to watch this year. Wasn't overly impressed with Carcassonnes recruitment.

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The great thing for me this opening weekend was to see so many French lads playing. Lezignan against Avignon had just two overseas players in total; FCL winners 34-22. Other than Yates from St Helens the two Catalan formations Palau and St Esteve were all-French as were Avignon. Toulouse have reduced to four I understand.

Three of the losers claimed a defence bonus point too.

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