This weekend saw a moment for the sporting history books.
Catalans Dragons v Wigan Warriors. So it seems, nothing out of the ordinary there, two Betfred Super League clubs playing their regular round 15 fixture.
The only slight difference, it was held at Camp Nou.
Why? Catalans Dragons are a leading force in the Catalonian sport narrative, with strong links to FC Barcelona – the heart of Catalonia – therefore the perfect opportunity to engage new audiences.
The politics of Catalonia was, as expected, an ever-present force at the game – with the Catalonian anthem blaring out, ‘Independéncia’ flags across the stadium – but it added to the passion of the spectacle.
Run Communications has been delighted to work with Betfred Super League in 2019 as it continues to grow the sport through innovative action, creative thinking and fantastic rugby – all led by CEO Robert Elstone.
Run was fortunate enough to make it out to Camp Nou for the fixture, working on behalf of Super League and witness history being made – with 31,555 spectators – a new Betfred Super League record attendance for a fixture. An incredible achievement and credit to Super League, Catalans Dragons and Wigan Warriors.
The crowd was alive, and the momentum was clearly with ‘home’ side Catalans Dragons who had the advantage of around 27,000 fans behind them. Nevertheless, Wigan’s 4,000 strong contingent of supporters proved a strong force.
Both sides clearly felt the pressure from the start, with a few sloppy errors but before you know it the big hits come flying in – much to the crowd’s delight.
First points went to Catalans, with Tony Gigot comfortably kicking through the posts from a penalty.
And the points kept coming in for Catalans who crossed the line first with a lovely dummy move from the French side’s no.9 Micky McIlorum touching down near the posts, making Tony Gigot’s life easy for the additional points to give Catalans an 8-0 lead after half an hour.
Just before the hooter, Wigan responded with a strong Liam Marshall break down the right wing giving Zak Hardaker the chance to kick through the posts and narrow the score to 8-6 at half time.
A matter of minutes into the second half and Wigan’s Liam Marshall almost dislocated his shoulder reaching for the try line only for the video referee to deny the four points, deeming him to have put a foot out of play.
Catalans David Mead crossed the line shortly after Wigan were denied, following an excellent offload from Sam Kasiano who brilliantly turned the ball over from a Wigan attack and set Mead off across the line for the Catalans’ second try of the game, again successfully converted by Gigot to give Dragons a 14-6 lead.
Not sure what Catalans Head Coach Steve McNamara said at half time, but it clearly worked. By 57 minutes the Catalans had stormed to an impressive 20-point lead, following two quick tries from Samisoni Langi and a second of the game for man of the match Sam Kasiano and another successful Tony Gigot penalty and subsequent additional points.
Gigot with a cheeky drop goal for an extra point made it 27-6 with still just under 20 minutes to go and David Mead wrapped up the game with another try for him and the Perpignan side, converted by Gigot to take it to 33-6.
Wigan’s Oliver Gildart made an impressive break down the left flank for a consolation try late on, as did Zak Hardaker who crossed the line on the hooter, but the game finished with a passionate 33-16 win for Catalans Dragons.
And the Super League excitement continues, this weekend at the legendary Anfield Stadium, home of 2019 Champions League finalists Liverpool FC as all Super League round of 16 fixtures from that weekend will be played over two amazing days at the Dacia Magic Weekend.