04 September 2021

The rise of Catalans Dragons – from expansion team to the top of Super League

04 September 2021

Catalans Dragons’ incredible season continues after beating St Helens at Magic Weekend to win the League Leaders’ Shield.

Here the PA news agency takes a look at some of the key factors that have helped the French club’s growth in the Super League.

2007 Challenge Cup

Mick Potter was the coach who took Catalans to the 2007 Challenge Cup final (Sean Dempsey/PA) (PA Archive)

After joining the Super League in 2006, Catalans managed to progress to the final of the 2007 Challenge Cup. The Dragons beat Hull FC and Wigan in the quarter-final and semi-finals, respectively, to become the first-ever French club to reach the competition’s final, but were defeated by St Helens.

Success under Steve

Steve McNamara, Catalans Dragons coach (Richard Sellers/PA) (PA Wire)

Steve McNamara joined the Dragons in 2017 and has been at the helm for their rise to the top.

Catalans were struggling at the bottom of the table and have seen a transformation after the former England coach’s appointment, winning the Challenge Cup in 2018 and gradually moving up the Super League table each year.

2018 Challenge Cup victory

Catalans Dragons’s Remi Casty lifts the Challenge Cup (Adam Davy/PA) (PA Archive)

Catalans first made their mark as serious challengers in the Super League when they beat Warrington 20-14 in the 2018 Challenge Cup.

The French side were unfancied leading up to the final, and became the first team from outside of England to win the trophy.

Super Sam

Sam Tomkins has been key for Catalans Dragons (Richard Sellers/PA) (PA Wire)

One of the most experienced players in the side, full-back Sam Tomkins has become an integral part of McNamara’s squad since joining Catalans in 2019.

The England captain has had an impressive season so far, helping the team win 19 of their 21 games so far and currently sits at the top of the Man of Steel ratings.

Nou horizons in Europe

Dragons’ rise to the top of the Super League has helped to grow and develop rugby league in France with the country declaring its intention to bid to host the 2025 Rugby League World Cup.

The side boasts a range of young French talent, including 22-year-old half-back, Arthur Mourgue and 22-year-old centre, Mathieu Laguerre.

Their influence has spread, and in 2019 they beat Wigan 33-16 at the Nou Camp in Barcelona in front of 31,555 fans, setting a record Super League crowd.

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