21 years! Who’d have thought it? Doesn’t time fly..
That’s right, it’s 21 years to the day since Super League kicked off in front of almost 18,000 at the Stade Sébastien Charléty in Paris as Paris St Germain defeated Sheffield Eagles 30-24.
Don’t remember it – or maybe it was before your time? Here’s the highlights, before a brief look at what happened next. PSG won the match 30-24; and the honour of the first ever try-scorer in Super League history went to PSG’s Frederic Banquet.
What they said and what happened next..
RFL chief executive Maurice Lindsay was bullish following the opening night, to say the least. “Some reporters came for a funeral and had to write about a party,” he said. “This is what Super League is all about. Just imagine, within a short time we could have Brisbane playing Paris.” Well, not quite.
John Kear, who went into PSG as coach, was also optimistic following the end of 1996. He said in the official Rugby League Yearbook: “The experiment of introducing a Paris side into Super League definitely worked. It wasn’t easy but we had to make it work. We could make South Wales work too, and if we are serious about expanding, we can’t afford to miss the opportunity.”
Little over a year after kicking off the first Super League season, the PSG project was abandoned soon after following confirmation they would not be readmitted into Super League in 1999. In both seasons in the competition, they finished 11th, avoiding the wooden spoon each time.
Sheffield Eagles, under coach Gary Hetherington, went on to finish 7th in the inaugural Super League season, four places above their opening night victors who managed just two further wins in the following 21 rounds.
The teams, and some interesting detail on how League Express reported the game itself and the fallout are below if you want to indulge in some rugby league history:
— Aaron Bower (@AaronBower) March 29, 2017