Steve McNamara ready for Perpignan party as Catalans clinch cup success

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Catalans Dragons head coach Steve McNamara was relishing the battle to get through the crowds in Perpignan after his side created history by lifting the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup at Wembley.

The French club came close to relegation from Super League in 2017 but on Saturday became the first non-British winners in the 121 years of the cup with a 20-14 victory over Warrington.

“I can’t completely sum it up now, it’s a bit surreal,” said McNamara.

“The group has done incredibly well and executed what we wanted to do well again today, for large periods of it.

It was a day to remember for Catalans
It was a day to remember for Catalans (Adam Davy/PA)

“Getting back to Perpignan and seeing the response is going to be where it really strikes home for us.

“We’ll have to fight our way through the airport because it will be full. The police will escort us through and then it’s back to the stadium where we’ll have a party throughout the night.

“We want to get back to the people back there and let them greet us. We’ll have a party ourselves and then there’s a big thing in Perpignan on Monday.

They are the first French side to win the cup
They are the first French side to win the cup (Adam Davy/PA)

“It’s just an incredible experience and we’re all a little bit lost for words. We’ve gone down in history.”

Dragons captain Remi Casty – the sole surviving member of the Catalans team that lost to St Helens in their only previous cup final appearance – struggled to hold back the tears as his team’s achievement sank in.

“It’s just unbelievable for us,” said the experienced forward, who deserved the success “more than anybody”, according to his coach.

Remi Casty has been through every emotion with the Dragons
Remi Casty has been through every emotion with the Dragons (Adam Davy/PA)

“After that maybe France could compete with England in a World Cup in four or eight years.

“We are part of the legend of the club and rugby league in France now. It’s unbelievable.”

Fellow Frenchman Tony Gigot claimed the Lance Todd Trophy to cap a remarkable turnaround following his doping ban, which was overturned on appeal against it.

“It’s a crazy feeling and has been a crazy year,” said the full-back.

Tony Gigot was man of the match
Tony Gigot was man of the match (Adam Davy/PA)

Warrington staged a late fightback but were unable to find a score that would have sent the final to golden point despite dominating possession and field position in the closing stages.

Wolves head coach Steve Price said: “It’s gut-wrenching to lose a Challenge Cup final after the amount of hard work the boys have put in. It’s tough to take at the moment.

“It’s going to be a really good challenge to pick ourselves up. We’re fighting for a top-four spot in Super League. It wasn’t our best performance today but we’ve got a footy team in there.

“We’ll try harness this feeling to motivate ourselves for the rest of the year.”

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