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Expansionists: Where are they now? Catalans Dragons

Barely 10 years after the failure of Paris St Germain, Super League decided to go back to France and award a franchise to the Catalans Dragons.

Formation and Super League application

The Dragons were founded back in 2000 as a merger between the old Catalan side and AS Saint Esteve. However, back then they were known as Union Treiziste Catalane.

The merger had won two Lord Derby Cups and one French Championship title.

In 2005, they applied to join the Super League. The Catalonians had got in ahead of other French sides Toulouse and Villeneuve.

With a bigger pool of French players to select from, and a guarantee from the Super League that they wouldn’t be relegated for three years, they started to build their side.

They won their first ever match in the Super League, beating Wigan Warriors 38-30. Just a year later, they reached the Challenge Cup Final, though they were well beaten by St Helens.

Making History

In 2009, the club made history as they were involved in the first ever Super League match not to involve an English side. They won 30-18 at Welsh side Crusaders. They also took the game to Spain in the same year. However, they lost that one 24-12 against Warrington at the Barcelona Olympic Stadium.

After 12 years of building, Catalans won their first trophy in 2018. They made history as the first non-English side to win the Challenge Cup after beating Warrington Wolves 20-14 at Wembley Stadium. A year later, they took rugby league to the famous Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona, where they beat Wigan.

The Future

Going forward, Steve McNamara’s side certainly could have more success. They created controversy this year with the signing of Israel Folau, who was sacked by Rugby Australia for homophobic comments on social media. Nevertheless, he has made a good start to life in France, and is combining well with the likes of Sam Tomkins and James Maloney.

With Toulouse growing in the Championship too, there is potentially a market for a second French side in the Super League. When that day comes, it will be history-making both in England and in France.

In the past few years, they have just lacked the consistency in order to challenge at the top of the Super League. However, that could well change and they could well be challengers in the near future, as they build under McNamara.

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