Paris Saint-Germain Rugby League
Paris Saint-Germain Rugby League, also known simply as PSG-RL, was a French professional rugby league club based in Paris. One of the founding members of the Super League, Europe's top rugby league competition, they competed for two seasons, from 1996 to 1997. PSG-RL was affiliated with PSG omnisports and played their home games at Stade Sébastien Charléty.
The team was established in late 1995 by PSG omnisports in an attempt to add a more European dimension to the new Super League. They played in the first ever Super League game on 29 March 1996, defeating Sheffield Eagles 30–24 before a crowd of 17,873. However, they performed poorly both on and off the field during their run, narrowly avoiding relegation to the second division and drawing diminishing crowds. During their two years of existence they won only nine, drew one, and lost thirty-four.
At the end of the Super League II season, following financial difficulties and the withdrawal of their officers, PSG-RL was dissolved in May 1997 and the experiment was generally considered to be a failure.
On 8 April 1995, after a meeting of presidents of the professional clubs of the English Rugby Football League unanimously voted their support for the principles of the Super League aligned with the company of Rupert Murdoch, which injected 77 million pounds in this new league. 12 teams were announced, including one French clubs, Paris. On 23 December 1995, during a press conference, Charles Biétry, PSG omnisports president, with the support of former rugby union coach Jacques Fouroux, announced the creation of Paris Saint-Germain Rugby League. The assumption was that the larger population of the capital city and its transport links and accessibility for English supporters would give a French franchise the best chance of success.
John Kear was head coach and Dave Ellis his assistant. Other French rugby league clubs loaned their players to the new club for the first year but the players still had to play for the original clubs. The Super League began in March 1996 and saw the British season switch from winter to summer for the first time in over 100 years. Most of the teams are based in Great Britain, though initially the league was intended to be European, and indeed the first ever competition featured all eleven teams from the 1995–96 Rugby Football League season plus PSG-RL. On 29 March 1996, the Super League I kicked off in Paris in front of 17,873 people at the Stade Sébastien Charléty as PSG-RL overcame Sheffield Eagles 30–24.
After a few weeks the attendances tailed off as the defeats mounted. The club finished 11th and narrowly avoided relegation in their first season, winning only three and drawing one. The following season, other French clubs refused to loan players to Paris Saint-Germain. As a consequence the team was filled with Australian players which was very costly and the absence of French players did little to help gain the club a following in Paris. In their first match of the season, PSG-RL claimed their first victory on English soil with an 18–4 win over Sheffield Eagles. The Eagles, beaten only twice at home last season, had no answer as the team of Australian imports built on their impressive defence to run in tries from Anthony Wall, Phil Bergman and Wayne Sing. The club finished in 11th place again in the Super League II, narrowly avoiding relegation for the second consecutive campaign, albeit this time with six wins. Their coach, Peter Mulholland, who replaced John Kear, was sacked part-way through the season. Andy Goodway took over as head coach. At this stage the attendances were low and the cost of paying players and travelling to England meant the club was losing money. Following financial difficulties and the withdrawal of their officers, PSG-RL was dissolved in May 1997 and the experiment was generally considered to be a failure.
List of players
- Philip Dine, French rugby football: a cultural history, Berg Publishers, 2001, pp. 179
- Hadfield, Dave (20 December 1995). "Rugby's pounds 87m deal gives Murdoch transfer veto". The Independent (London). Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- "Club-by-club guide to the Super League". The Independent (London). 13 March 1997. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- "Happy trip for PSG". The Independent (London). 17 March 1997. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Hadfield, Dave (8 May 1997). "Mulholland pays for the failure of Paris". The Independent (London). Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Hadfield, Dave (20 May 1997). "Goodway confirmed as Paris coach". The Independent (London). Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Dine, Philip (2001). French rugby football: a cultural history. Berg Publishers. ISBN 1-85973-327-1.