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Catalans Dragons


Catalans Dragons

The Catalans Dragons (occasionally referred to as Les Catalans, Les Cats or simply The Dragons) hail from Perpignan in Northern Catalonia. They play in both the European Super League and the French Rugby League Championship and even though they are a relatively new team they have seen great success with a championship title in the 2005 season and two Lord Derby Cups in 2004 and 2005. The Catalans Dragons were first established in 2001 through a merger or the XIII Catalan club and their geographical neighbours Saint Estève and began using the name Union Treiziste Catalane. They were permitted entry into the European Super League in 2006.

The club is often abbreviated to UTC (which stands for Union Treiziste Catalane) which is what the team used to play as when they were formed in 2000, and still play as when they play in the French leagues. The XIII Catalan part of the team can trace their lineage back to 1935 and are considered the original founders of the French rugby league championship. The Saint Estève half of the UTC and Catalans Dragons was founded much later than XII Catalan, they were not founded until 1965. They beat off Toulouse and Villeneuve in a competition to enter the Super League and gained admission in 2006, and France hopes that the Catalans Dragons will form the basis for the national team. Catalans Dragons are shaping up to be the most successful attempt to have a French team play in the Super League as the previous team that attempted it (Paris Saint Germain) only survived for two seasons.

As an added incentive to entice the Catalans Dragons to play in the Super League they were promised faithfully by the Super Leagues governing body that they will not be relegated from the league for three years even if they repeatedly finish at the bottom of the league tables. This decision has caused some controversy amongst fans of the Super League however the Catalans Dragons are confident that they will not need such generosity and will not be in a position to be relegated. Although many critics do not support the concept it is hoped that eventually the Catalans Dragons will be joined by other French clubs in the Super League. In 2006 the Catalans Dragons won their first ever Super League game finishing 38-30 against Wigan Warriors, however some of the French players found the pace of the Super League difficult to keep up with (they were playing games in their native France at the same time as well as competing in the Super League) and the team began to suffer towards the end of the season. The finished bottom of the table in their first year however the Catalans Dragons performed much better in the 2007 season and were the first ever French side to reach the final of the Challenge Cup (they lost in the final to St Helens) and overall the team finished in 10th place. Some exciting changes have been announced for the 2008 season so there is no doubt that the Catalans Dragons will perform even better next year.