Pascal Jampy’s Super League dream looked to have crumbled when the Paris Saint-Germain experiment collapsed but, in reality, it had only just begun.
The former back-rower was part of the PSG side who broke into the sport in 1996, with the lights of Super League shining brightly over a Parisian adventure.
Jampy had joined the affiliate side of footballing giants PSG from XIII Catalan, along with a broad range of France’s best Rugby League talent. Among those were ex-Sheffield Eagles flier Frederic Banquet and Hull FC and Leeds’ former enigmatic halfback Patrick Entat.
But for Jampy, who was a member of the 1995 and 2000 France World Cup squads, this all just felt like a dream. Once that soon fell apart, however, namely because the squad were expected to play for their respective clubs in France as well.
“It was a great experience,” he told Total Rugby League. “A dream for any player to be able to participate in this competition. We had a superb off-season and a good start to the season.
“But, over time, with many players who worked, dispersed throughout the four corners of France and also playing for their clubs, we lacked cohesion in the face of very well-structured teams.
“It’s a shame because the Parisian public responded well whenever we played at Stade Sébastien Charléty.”
The French outfit, who were coached by the likes of John Kear, Peter Mulholland and Andy Goodway, finished second from bottom in both their two seasons in Super League, relegating both Oldham and Workington Town.
A shift of focus on Australian players, ahead of their second season, limited the opportunities of local squad members such as Jampy, but he still has fond memories of his time at the top level.
“For me, playing against teams like Wigan, Leeds, St Helens and Bradford Bulls was amazing. I followed from a very young age and PSG allowed me to realise a dream, to allow me to evaluate my career and to progress with high-level matches every week, field training and bodybuilding every day.
“In France, with our clubs, it was only two training sessions per week and optional bodybuilding. But the cons of the whole experience, and my only regret, is that I could not fully participate in this adventure because I had professional obligations in my work life.”
Following the disbanding of the PSG side, Jampy would go onto feature for the newly merged Union Treiziste Catalane. With the club, he won the Lord Derby Cup in 2001 and 2004, before retained the trophy in 2005 as well as the French Championship title.
That set the platform for the club to emerge as Catalans Dragons for the 2006 Super League, with Jampy featuring from the bench in their first-ever game – a 38-30 victory over Wigan Warriors. 13 more appearances would come of Jampy, before departing at the end of the season, meaning he is the only man to feature for PSG and the Dragons in Super League.
“When we won the cup in 2001, we did very well,” he remembered. “Then, for two years, Villeneuve dominated the Championship. We came back and in 2004-2005 we had more structure, we were training weekly and recruiting better players like Laurent Frayssinous and Justin Murphy.
“When we did the double in 2005 we didn’t lose a game all season. That helped us get to Super League and I was very happy when the game returned to the South of France. For young players and supporters, and especially the game as a whole.
“In addition, it was my last season as a player, it was a great reward. I am very satisfied with how the club turned out. They are still a very young club, to have already won the Challenge Cup is great and you see their progress regularly. This season, I think they have a team to challenge for the title.”