Astonishing reason why Sam Tomkins and Catalans ‘may miss out on Challenge Cup’

Sam Tomkins in training with Catalans
Sam Tomkins in training with Catalans

Sam Tomkins could be denied the chance of playing in this year’s Challenge Cup competition after holders Catalans refused to pay a six-figure bond to defend their trophy.

Reports in France state the Dragons are refusing to pay a £495,000 bond requested by the RFL to enter the knock-out competition.

It is understood the governing body took a financial hit last year when Catalans’ presence in the final resulted in a reduced crowd, stated at 50,652 – the lowest since the second world war.

They consequently asked overseas clubs Toulouse and Toronto to put up a bond in case they progressed to the latter stages – both have withdrawn from this year’s Challenge Cup competition.

Now, L’Independent newspaper reports Catalans may follow suit - a scenario which would astonish many, given they are the holders.

Dragons CEO Bernard Guasch has written to RFL bosses urging them to review their position, the newspaper reports.

Catalans stunned the rugby league world by beating Warrington 20-14 in last year’s final – with ex-Warrior Lewis Tierney scoring the opening try.

Hooker Micky McIlorum also took part in the historic victory and both Tomkins and ex-Wigan halfback Matty Smith have joined them at the French club ahead of the 2019 campaign.

Catalans paraded their Cup during a Barcelona FC match, leading to an invitation to move their Super League game against the Warriors, on May 18.

“We do this, the year we relocate to Camp Nou and after presenting the Cup at the half-time of a La Liga match... is a disaster,” said Guasch, whose club is expected to enter the Challenge Cup in the sixth round (11 and 12 May 2019).

Toronto and ex-Leigh player Ryan Brierley tweeted: “Imagine FIFA asking France for half a million to defend the World Cup.”

The RFL has been contacted for comment but has yet to respond.