> Err... someone sent this to me, so I thought I'd pass it on. It shows how
> well the vision of SL is developing in Europe without those interfering
> ARL people messing it all up:
> Rugby League: French farce threatens to spoil Super
> League's opening night
> Paris have only two-and-a-half months to build=20
> a side that can match 100-year-old opposition
> Owen Slot on the race against time for the debutants
> WHEN THE music stops for rugby league today, it is Wigan who will be left
> holding all the
> prizes. Today is the last official day of the last season of the game as
> we know it - it is all change
> from here on, the Super League is upon us.
> When it arrives in 10 weeks' time, Wigan will face new challenges and
> Paris, according to the
> fixture list at least, will be among them. But Paris are unlikely to be
> much of a challenge for any
> team in the Super League. For Paris are a shambles.
> It was only one month ago that Paris found themselves a ground to call
> their own, more
> extraordinarily, it was only 10 days ago that Paris held trials for the
> side to fill it. So the club has
> two-and-a-half months to build from scratch a team to match opposition wh=
> have been at it for
> 100 years.
> There is much more at issue in Paris than the rise and possible fall of a
> new club. The
> controversial takeover of rugby league in England by Rupert Murdoch's New=
> Corporation last
> year brought with it the intention to transform the game - clubs would
> merge, the game would
> expand beyond its stronghold in the north of the country, teams would for=
> in Cardiff and Paris,
> the word would spread. But no clubs have merged and there is no club to b=
> seen coming out of
> If Paris do not succeed - if they are relegated from the 12-team top tier
> - the European Super
> League will be the Stones Bitter Premiership in all but title - same game=
> new name.
> So Paris must succeed. Maurice Lindsay, chief exceutive of the Super
> League, believes they will,
> but he has considered the consquences if they do not. "It's ridiculous to
> call it a European League
> if Paris aren't in it," he said. "So if things do go wrong, I'll try my
> best to strengthen them."
> No one knows what's going on, and we don't understand anything anyway
> because all the instructions they are giving are in French
> What Lindsay means is that he will import players from Australia. "To
> strengthen Paris," he said,
> "I'd go anywhere in the world."
> The indications are that he might have to. Go back 10 days, and we find
> ourselves at trials day,
> with the man in the stand saying "This is crap" turning out to be Tas
> Baitieri, the club's Australian
> chief executive. Baitieri clearly had no illusions about the knockabout o=
> the park in front of him.
> "This," he said, "is worse than a First Division game in England. Much wo=
> The players taking part, 71 in all, were the best in France plus some 20
> Australians who had lived
> on the fringes of the professional game at home and were on contract with
> various French League
> clubs for the winter.
> There were no big names involved - Cavill Heugh, the former Queensland
> State of Origin player,
> and Patrick Entat, formerly of Leeds, were the biggest - but no big-money
> signings. So why, one
> might ask, was this rabble being sorted out so very close to kick-off?
> None of the Australians could come up with an answer. They were at the
> trials, they said,
> because they would have been suspended by their club sides without pay fo=
> four games if they
> had not turned up.
> "We're really in France for a paid holiday," one insisted. Was the Paris
> Super League side not a
> good opportunity for a shot at the big time? "Maybe, but there are no
> contracts on offer. No one
> knows what's going on, and we don't understand anything anyway because al=
> the instructions
> they are giving are in French."
> They then started discussing the mystery of the new club's coach. "I've
> heard it's going to be
> someone from Halifax."
> "No, it's a Frenchie."
> "They definitely need an English or an Australian coach."
> "Well I've heard he's a Frenchie."
> People keep telling me that Paris will go down. I'll have a little wager
> that they
> "Amazing isn't it? No one even knows who the coach is."
> The coach did turn out to be a Frenchie. Michel Mazar=8E, the former Fren=
> national coach, was
> appointed two days before Christmas, and a fortnight later David Ellis,
> the former Castleford
> player who now coaches a French club side, was rung up and invited to be
> assistant coach. "It's
> going to be very difficult," said Ellis. "They've got a lot of work to do=
> They have indeed, for two further problems remain. Firstly, the French
> League runs until
> mid-May, and for seven weeks the players will be playing two matches per =
> Secondly, the Super League sides they will be facing will almost all be
> full-time professional
> teams; Paris, however, will be part-time, meeting for three-day camps nea=
> Toulouse where most
> of the players are based (the trials were also held in Toulouse) before
> departing for their games.
> And whether it will be worth the players giving up work for these
> three-day camps is another
> matter altogether.
> As Jacques Fouroux, the former French rugby union supremo who is chairman
> of Paris,
> explained later that day, there is =A3600 on offer for a win, =A3300 for =
> defeat. If a player loses his
> place in the side, there is nothing.
> The aim for the present is merely Super League survival. Ask Fouroux wher=
> he wants to finish
> this year, he answers: "Eleventh". Baitieri intends to ensure this by
> recruitment. "How else are
> we going to avoid coming twelfth?" he asked. But as Ellis himself
> observed: "All the best players
> were signed up long ago."
> "We will be looking at a couple of rugby union players," said Baitieri.
> "Jacques reckons he can
> get Abdel Benazzi." Fouroux, however, reckons it will not be until next
> year that he "gets
> There is one argument in Paris's favour, though, that they all use.
> Lindsay, Fouroux, Baitieri and
> Ellis all make the point that Paris is going to be the French national
> side with a few added extras.
> "That's why I'm not worried," said Lindsay. "People keep telling me that
> Paris will go down. I'll
> have a little wager that they won't."
> Don't do it, Maurice, hang on to your cash.
> Keith Rand, Sydney Australia
nationally to grow and compete against rival sports, so does the=20
British/European. When Super League started tossing around the phrase=20
`Best of the best' they were referring to players and this has led to=20
much debate and mocking. IMO they had the right phrase just the wrong=20
context. The `Super' leagues of both countries have to have the best=20
clubs (for the game) in the premier competitions. It doesn't matter where=
the players are because they'll all end up playing for the clubs in the=20
premier comps anyway as these clubs will have the greater finances over=20
the lesser lower division clubs. So playing strength of clubs like London=
and Paris in Europe and North Queensland in Australia doesn't really make=
much difference cause that will fix itself in time. It is more where these=
clubs are located and the markets they occupy that matters to the future=20
development and growth of Rugby League.
=09Paris is vital to Rugby League both as a potential untapped=20
market and as a base to strengthen the French national side and thus=20
international competition. The two examples of this type of=20
strengthening thru inclusion in elite comps that leap to my mind are New=20
Zealand and Fiji (and the Pacific islands in general). Having the bulk of=
the New Zealand national side (and now all of it) playing in the English=20
and Australian league has brought them up to the same level as Asutralia=20
and Great Britian. Yes, they were always competitive but never quite on=20
the same level. Similarly, having islander players in the Australian=20
competition has helped these countries become competitive at an=20
international level very quickly. So by having a french side in the comp=20
will help their players improve to one day getting back to a level of=20
international competitiveness. Sure, they'll get thrashed and probably=20
finish last, but relegating them and shutting off funding support is no=20
solution. It is project that can only be undertaken on a long term=20
basis, a decade or more. With perhaps three or four experienced players=20
to guide the locals along and teach them the side may even spring a few=20
=09As for Cardiff, I was under the impression that a club is=20
currently being formed for inclusion in the second division next season.=20
Whether this is the right place to start them off is debatable in my=20
opinion. Clubs in the lower divisions are always going to find it hard to=
work their way up against clubs in higher divisions with greater=20
finances. As with Paris and London, the way to give them a fighting=20
chance at being a major force is to start them off in the top division=20
with at least some level of protection against immediate relegation.
=09It is in the English leagues interests to ensure that clubs like=20
Paris, London and Cardiff are a success.
Catchya round, Leigh
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* Leigh T. Gillespie=09 * "It takes leather balls=09*
* Phone - Australia (077) 791219 * to play Rugby!"=09=09*
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