French Rugby League

By Guy Williams, Date: 9/3/13

DAMAGING Carcassonne front rower Mark Offerdahl should have been part of arguably the club’s most successful season to date. But, he wasn’t.

Carcassonne won both the French Federation of Rugby League’s Elite One premiership and the Lord Derby Cup in 2011-12, upstaging minor premiers Pia Donkeys in both finals.

While representing the United States of America in a World Cup qualifying match against Jamaica in 2011, Offerdahl dislocated his shoulder, effectively missing the remainder of the 2011-12 season.

“I came back and tried play but it just kept dislocating so I had to get an operation on it so that put me out for about eight months with recovery,” said Offerdahl, who was raised in the western Queensland town of Goondiwindi.

“It was pretty ordinary because I did the same shoulder in my second year at Easts (Tigers) in the Queensland Cup and I missed half a season with that. I came back, played one season, and then did it again so I’ve only played one season in the last two-and-a-half years so it’s been pretty frustrating.”

While officially a premiership winner and Lord Derby Cup winner with Carcassonne in 2011-12 Offerdahl is the first to admit he felt on the outer, despite the efforts of his teammates.

“It was pretty hard to watch something like that,” the 25-year-old former Manly Sea Eagles lower grader said.

“I didn’t really feel a part of the team because, one, you’re not playing and you’re not training, and two, because I couldn’t speak a word of French, so it was pretty tough.

“I hung out with all the boys and all that, and had a good time, but it was pretty hard. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.”

Offerdahl returned at the beginning of the 2012-13 season, and now has the opportunity to help Carcassonne advance through to their second straight Lord Derby Cup final with a win over Limoux on Saturday; and this time be a part of it.

“It’d be pretty good. We’ve got a good group of boys here. We’re all good mates so it’d be fun to play in a grand final – and hopefully win a grand final – together. To win any grand final is a big achievement,” he said.

Despite sitting in seventh spot on the FFR XIII Elite One ladder Limoux is in red-hot form. The Cup dark horses overcame competition heavyweights St Esteve and Lezignan on their road to Sunday afternoon’s semi-final, and Offerdahl is certainly wary.

“Limoux has been on fire lately. We lost to UTC (a couple weeks ago) and then they (Limoux) turned around and beat them on the weekend,” he said.

“They’ve beaten two pretty big teams in UTC and Lezignan in the Cup to get to the semi-final so it’s going to be tough. They’re going real good now.”

It’s been a long time between drinks, but if his last performance in a grand final is anything to go, should Carcassonne advance through to the decider on May 12, their opposition should be worried.

“I haven’t won a grand final since under-16s so if I can win anything it’d be good,” Offerdahl said of his starring performance for Goondiwindi in the 2003 Toowoomba Rugby League under-16 grand final, in which he scored two tries and eventually claimed Man of the Match honours.

The match between Carcassonne and Limoux kicks-off at 3.30pm on Saturday at Lezignan while Avignon tackle Toulouse at Albi on Sunday at 4.50pm.

—- is the place to discover everything about the French Federation of Rugby League’s Elite Championship competition. You’ll uncover the latest news on the non-French players who are plying their trade in the south of France. And, it’s all in English!