After seeing Toronto Wolfpack and Toulouse withdraw from this year’s Challenge Cup after not adhering to the RFL’s request for a bond for their entry, 2018 winners Catalans Dragons have urged the governing body to rethink their demand for £500,000 in order for the French club to defend their title.
While Catalans have stopped short of threatening a boycott of the competition, chairman Bernard Guasch has explained that is would be irresponsible for the club to pay the bond in a letter to the organisation. “The club has been officially advised in December that a £500,000 deposit will be asked by the RFL to play in the Challenge Cup in 2019,” he wrote to the RFL. “We, as a club, want to participate in this prestigious competition and defend our title, but it would be irresponsible to accept this decision. Thus, we have asked the RFL to reconsider its demand and we are now waiting for a decision,” he added.
After the Dragons reached – and won – August’s final, the RFL reported £800,000 less in projected income, leading to the governing body’s requests to the overseas clubs of financial guarantees to safeguard against future losses from an event which is usually a valuable money earner. Due to Toronto, Toulouse and Catalans not being full members of the RFL, there is no automatic right to enter the Challenge Cup but it would be embarrassing for the organisation if the Dragons weren’t present in 2019 to defend their title.
However, they are keen to see Catalans in the competition this year and further information will no doubt be forthcoming in the not-too-distant future.