Catalans Dragons have hit back at the French national team after coach Richard Agar slammed the Super League side when his team were prevented from training at the Gilbert Brutus Stadium in the build-up to last Saturday’s international against England.
Speaking in the aftermath of his team’s record 84-4 rout by England at Leigh, Agar contrasted the move to the invitation handed out to the touring New Zealanders to base themselves at the ground and said in future he would take the French national team to Toulouse “where we’ll be welcomed”.
Agar said: “The rug was pulled out from under us about training at Brutus, yet the red carpet has been rolled out for New Zealand. The status of our team in that particular neck of the woods is probably a little bit disappointing.
“As national coach, you want all the support you can get. When you see another country getting a damned sight more support than us, you need to ask a couple of questions there.”
In response, Dragons chief executive Christophe Jouffret said the decision to prevent the French team from training at the ground was taken by the local council because of essential pitch treatment, which was completed before the arrival of the Kiwis for a camp arranged three months in advance.
“It’s important to know that the France team was not the only team prevented from training on the Gilbert Brutus pitch during the essential pitch maintenance,” Jouffret said. “Our injured players, our reserve-grade players and our under-19 players have been training for over a month at another stadium.
“We have, of course, provided our changing rooms, gymnasium and video room to be as welcoming as possible to the France team.”
In reference to the spate of withdrawals by Catalans players from the national team, Jouffret insisted that most were injured and others like Olivier Elima and Thomas Bosc have retired from the international game.
Jouffret added: “We regret the questioning of the integrity of Catalans Dragons in the Super League, especially two weeks after the annual Super League meeting where the club received a lot of positive feedback from the RFL and the CEOs from other Super League clubs following the presentation on the history and the development of our club over the past 10 years.
“The Catalans Dragons would like to wish the XIII de France all the best for their next two games against Wales and Scotland and is more than ever open to discussions to improve, in the interest of all, the results of the France national team.”