22 Sep 2013

The Elite 1 Championship kicks off this weekend, with all eight teams taking the field. Each coach gives his view on the campaign, the first under the FFRXIII’s innovative format.

AS Carcassonne XIII : Jean-François ALBERT : Our preparation has been very good. We hired a specialist trainer to make full use of the [pre-season] months of June, July and August, and his work was really seen during some hard physical testing.  We are both ambitious and realistic; we have a group which can win a title. Now this won’t be easy, because six teams have the capacity to go all the way.

XIII Limouxin : Karl TEMATA : We’ve trained well during the off-season. The focus of our work has mainly been on the integration of new players who, I think, have added a lot to our group. The objective for the first part of season [before the league breaks up into its sub-divisions, linking with Elite 2] is to finish in the famous top 4.

Palau XIII Broncos : Antoine NOGUERA :  We want to remain in this competition.  As the promoted side we are under no illusions that we will be able to combat the top of the table but we don’t want to finish last. We’ve prepared very well for that.

Toulouse Olympique XIII : Gilles DUMAS :  We started our preparation at the beginning of July with a massive gym programme. The field became a part of our work in August. The objectives for this season are clear: win a title to make up for last season. We’re hungry for victory. We are conscious that the championship will be very tight but that’s what makes it so exciting.

FC Lézignan XIII : Aurélien COLOGNI : I’ve got a very young group, but I am really pleased with their work during the pre-season. We’re focused on our short term objectives – to finish in the first four. After that, all the teams can consider themselves the favourite.

Villeneuve XIII RL : Rory BROMLEY : Preparation has gone well. We had two friendly matches to gauge where we were. We’re still waiting for the arrival of two foreign signings who will really make us a threat in the championship.  We have a small squad, but our goal is to participate in the finals and go as far as possible.

St. Estève XIII Catalan : Cyrille GOSSARD : We started our preparation quite early with a lot of young players who will, for sure, debut in the Elite this season. We’re always ambitious and hope to do better than before. But our objective is to develop our young players through the Dragons Catalans system in the coming year. Our players’ motivation is strong and that will enable us to compete well.

SO Avignon XIII : Renaud GUIGUE : The pre-season has been good; I have a team that’s even younger than last year and so the first few matches will tell us what we can do. After that, if we do something better than last year  we’ll take it, but above all the goal is present an attractive style of play to our supporters. We’ve signed Tony Gigot and Guillaume Bonnet, who’ve returned from Australia, and they bring with them their overseas experience.  Toulouse and Carcassonne have the two biggest budgets in the Elite and have spent wisely. They’ll be the championship favourites but anything’s possible in rugby.

Pictured: St Estève XIII Catalan and FC Lézignan XIII met in last season's semi-finals.