Final Paves the Way for French Revolution and Place in History; Key Man: Catalans Dragons Are Expecting a Lot from Stacey Jones

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRIS JONES

CATALANS DRAGONS say their historic appearance at Wembley on Saturdayfor the Carnegie Challenge Cup Final has already revitalised rugby league inFrance.

But one of their former players is predicting even bigger things for the sportin his homeland if they can pull off a shock triumph.

Victory over red-hot favourites St Helens would see the trophy leave Englandfor the first time in the competition's 110-year history.

And it would provide the perfect boost for the sport in a rugby union madcountry, which is just two weeks away from staging the 15-man code's World Cup.

French international Julien Rinaldi spent three years helping establish theDragons as a viable addition to Super League before leaving the club to joinHarlequins RL for this campaign.

Rinaldi believes the Wembley final is a turning point for league in France. Hesaid: "This match could change attitudes to the sport in France and I will bethere along with my family supporting the Dragons. I am sure all the neutralswill support the Dragons, who will bring Catalan passion to the new Wembley..

"A lot of hard work has gone into this moment because the rest of league inFrance is amateur and reaching the final will help the sport grow. No one willgive the Dragons a chance, but that was the case in the semi-finals when theybeat Wigan and anything is possible on Saturday." The Dragons have arrangedcharter flights to bring 2,500 of their supporters from Perpignan for the firstever appearance in the final by a French club in what is also be the firstChallenge Cup Final at Wembley since 1999. …