Could Catalans Dragons relocate to England to fulfil their commitment to Super League in the opening weeks of the season? Nothing has been ruled out, according to the club’s chief executive, Alex Chan.
With restrictions between the French and English governments likely to remain separate for the foreseeable future due to varying Covid-19 rates, Catalans are in fortnightly conversations with the Rugby Football League alongside fellow French side Toulouse Olympique.
Catalans’ players are not currently training, with many remaining on furlough. And Chan told Thirteen the ongoing uncertainty means they cannot rule out the prospect of moving across the Channel to start the season, which begins late next month.
“We’re looking at every single possibility and probability, including that,” Chan said when asked about relocating. “We meet every fortnight to look at the changes happening here in France, and how they may impact us moving forward. We still don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
Catalans flew in and out of England on the day of their games last year, playing almost all their fixtures away from Perpignan in order to fulfil their obligations to Super League. That option remains on the table again, according to Chan.
And while relocating also is an option, Chan concedes he is mindful of the toll that could take on Catalans’ players.
“We’re open-minded that there could be a possibility of that happening, which is going to be very hard,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of young families; not just the overseas guys, but the French players – we’ve got three new girls in the families of some of our French guys: Ben Garcia, Julian Bousquet and Ben Jullien have all recently had children.
“It’s going to be hard for all our guys who’ve got brand new additions, and there’s no clear idea of how long we would have to relocate for. I don’t really want to think that far ahead but we’re aware of the possibility of having to relocate or perhaps flying in and out when the games start.
Chan also insisted Israel Folau remains under contract with Catalans for the upcoming Super League season, and they have had no offers for the player amidst talk of a potential NRL return with St George. Folau returned to Australia in the off-season for family reasons, and remains Down Under.
“I can’t say this enough: he is a Catalans Dragons player, and he’s contracted and registered with us until November,” Chan said. “Unless we are contacted and enquiries are made officially, there’s nothing to report really. Nothing has changed from our end. We’ve put no pressure on him to return because of his family issues, and we’re fully supportive of him and will give him the time and respect he needs before welcoming him back.”