RFL “totally wrong” to demand bond from Challenge Cup holders Catalans, says Wigan Warriors boss Ian Lenagan

Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan
Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan

Ian Lenagan believes the RFL is “totally wrong” to demand Catalans pay a £500,000 deposit to defend their Challenge Cup crown.

The Dragons last year became the first team from outside England to win rugby league’s oldest trophy – one of the brightest moments in the sport’s recent history. But they are considering their place in this year’s competition after being ordered to pay a bond to take part.

“I think it’s wrong. Without any doubt at all,” said Lenagan.

“For the Challenge Cup holders not to be invited is totally wrong. Totally wrong.”

The RFL took a financial hit last year when the showcase final was played in front of 50,672, Wembley’s lowest Challenge Cup final crowd since World War Two - prompting the governing body to request a bond to help cover any dip in revenue in the future.

Catalans have asked the Rugby Football League to “reconsider its demand”, which applies to all non-English teams - second-tier sides Toronto and Toulouse will also be missing from this year’s competition. The RFL’s decision left many players, fans and commentators scratching their heads.

“They may as well have said, ‘No Championship side can enter without a bond - what’s the difference?’” said Lenagan, nodding to other clubs who would struggle to lure fans to London if they reached the final.

Sam Tomkins joined Catalans in the off-season, linking-up with his former Wigan team-mates Micky McIlorum, Lewis Tierney and fellow recruit Matty Smith in the south of France.

They could be back at the DW Stadium for the match on March 31 – though it is the reverse fixture which has many excited.

Catalans are moving their home match to Barcelona’s iconic Camp Nou.

“It will be magical, a great occasion,” predicted Lenagan.