Saints enjoy Spanish gold as football giants pen special letter

St Helens are basking in the satisfaction of having been congratulated on this year’s double by the president of world-famous football club Barcelona.

Both Saints’ men’s and women’s teams won both Super League and the Challenge Cup, with the latter also claiming the League Leaders’ Shield.

For Kristian Woolf’s men’s team, it was a third successive league crown and a 16th in all, stretching back to 1931/32.

Barcelona have claimed 26 Spanish league titles and won the country’s Copa del Ray knockout tournament 31 times, their latest success coming in April, when Athletic Bilbao were beaten 4-0 in the final.

European champions five times (Saints have won two World Club Challenges), Barcelona’s famous Camp Nou stadium hosted a Super League fixture between Catalans Dragons and Wigan in May 2019, when the French side won 33-16 in front of 31,555.

In a letter to Saints, Barcelona president Joan Laporta commented: “I am writing on behalf of the club’s board of directors and in my own name to express our sincerest congratulations to your men’s and women’s teams.

“I would also appreciate if you could pass on our congratulations to players and coaching staff and everyone who played a part in these successes.”

Saints, meanwhile, have agreed to a second player, fullback or winger Tom Nisbet, spending the whole of the 2022 campaign at relegated Leigh.

The 22-year-old, who has made one first-team appearance, follows England Knights hooker Aaron Smith to the Centurions on a season-long loan deal.

“Tom is a talented player who is another who has progressed through our Academy,” said Woolf.

“Like Aaron Smith, his game time has been limited playing behind the likes of Tommy Makinson and Regan Grace.

“So a season playing regularly at Leigh will aid his development and I am looking forward to seeing him progress.”

The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.