Catalans explore link with Toulouse

A mini ‘magique weekend’ is being planned by Rugby League chiefs in France to boost the game and encourage vital television coverage for the sport.

Catalans Dragons president Bernard Guasch is seeking approval to hold a unique Super League and Championship double-header at the new home of Toulouse Olympique.

“It would be a great first between the two clubs,” Guasch announced in Perpignan’s L’Indépendant newspaper.

Toulouse’s new base next season is the 19,000-seater Stade Ernest Wallon, home to the city’s French rugby union champions.

And the Catalans president is hoping to take a Dragons ‘home’ game there at the end of May to be played immediately before or after an Olympique Championship match.

Guasch is a huge supporter of Toulouse’s efforts to gain eventual Super League status and believes the double-header would boost support for the club at the new stadium.

He added: “I hope they will achieve their Super League goal as it would be a win-win for Rugby League in France.

“The player pool would increase and young people would have twice the chance to play at the highest level.

“We would have more weight and strength in the media and I am 150 per cent behind them.”

His request has been submitted to Super League chiefs, who are currently finalising details of the 2020 fixture list.

Catalans have already staged an on-the-road fixture at Stade Ernest Wallon, attracting 14,000 supporters in June 2013, when they were narrowly defeated by Hull KR.

The Dragons are currently negotiating with French television companies for live coverage of Super League matches and a double-header fixture could prove attractive to broadcasters.

Coach Steve McNamara has unveiled only one signing for the 2020 season so far in Penrith Panthers halfback James Maloney, although former Dragons scrum-half Josh Drinkwater is expected to return to Perpignan alongside his Hull KR teammate Joel Tomkins.

McNamara will be keeping a close eye on this weekend’s World Cup Nines tournament in Sydney as there are ten Catalans players taking part.

Eight of them – Jason Baitieri, Lucas Albert, Arthur Romano, Lambert Belmas, Alrix Da Costa, Arthur Mourgue, Paul Séguier and Joan Guasch – have been selected in the France squad, while fullback Sam Tomkins is in the England squad and the Dragons’ top try scorer Brayden Wiliame will feature for Fiji.

Meanwhile the Dragons took more than 130 club sponsors to Saturday’s Super League Grand Final as the members of the Business Club at Stade Gilbert Brutus were invited to Old Trafford.