French Rugby League

By Guy Williams, Date: 31/3/13

Halfback Ryan Carr might be studying a business degree at Wollongong University in Australia, but his sole focus right now is firmly on the business end of the season for the Pia Donkeys.

The 24-year-old has guided the Donkeys within reach of the 2012-13 French Federation of Rugby League’s minor premiership title, in the process he is putting a target on the premiership favourites.

The 2011-12 runners-up have won 14 of 15 matches this season, and are currently unbeaten in their last nine starts.

The driving force behind Pia Donkey’s pursuit of a championship title in 2012-13, Carr said the Donkeys weren’t getting caught up the high expectations bestowed on the club given their form this season.

“Pressure is a thing that I find you’re only under as much pressure as you let yourself get under,” Carr said ahead of Sunday’s round 18 match against Limoux Grizzlies.

“I think every team that comes up against us is going to be trying to knock us off. We feel the same when we play against every other team. We feel that every game we play everyone is going to be really trying hard to beat us so we have to really focus on our game and try not to focus too much on the pressures of winning or losing.

“If we do the little things right then the result will look after itself.”

Pia won 16 straight matches to finish the 2011-12 season, but lost when it counted most – in both the Elite One grand final and the Lord Derby Cup final to 2011-12 dual champions AS Carcassonne.

“I got told about (last year’s grand final losses). It hasn’t really been touched on too much though,” the former Engadine Dragons junior said.

“We’re really just taking it one game at a time. At the moment all our thoughts are focused on Limoux. After what happened last year we know this year we’ve just got to take it one step at a time and if we do that then we give ourselves the best chance to be playing good footy come the finals.

“If we start thinking about that now, then it can get a bit panicked, so it’s just taking it one game at a time and treating this year as this year and not worrying about what happened last season.”

Given he’s played in the New South Wales Cup, Queensland Cup and Toyota Cup competitions in Australia, you’d expect him to have encountered a similar style of rugby league to what’s he’s experienced in France.

But, the Cronulla Sutherland Shire local admitted he’d been forced to make adjustments to his natural game to suit the French style of footy.

“It’s totally different to Australia. I find the defensive schemes you see here are a lot different. I find it it very different, actually,” Carr said.

“I had to change a bit of what I would do, as a halfback especially, with how I play to try and adapt to the footy over here. For example, a lot of teams over here jam from outside in in defence whereas in Australia, a majority of time you’re taught just to stay in the line, check, and go.

“Over here it’s a bit more of a lottery. Every play could be different whereas in Australia you’re used to the same thing all the time.”

After stints with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, North Queensland Cowboys, Redcliffe Dolphins and Balmain in Australia Carr ventured to France along with wife Megan, and the pair are loving the laid back lifestyle by the beach.

“I’m enjoying my time at Pia. The boys and the team have really welcomed me and I’m having fun with it all,” said Carr, who has planned to visit the Greek Islands and Venice, Italy after the season.

“We’re always trying to go out each week as a team and just have fun together. And Megan’s here with me which is good. She’s enjoying it. It’s a good experience. We’ve been able to see a bit of the world as well, which is good.”

The only sour point on an almost perfect season was the club’s omission from the 2012-13 Lord Derby Cup competition.

Prior to the start of the season the club was disqualified from the knockout Cup competition due to a dispute between the club and the competition organisers ahead of last season’s final.

“It’s a bit disappointing. We were a bit disappointed as a playing group,” Carr said. “It has made it a bit hard on us. This season, because of the Cup, we’ve played one game on, one game off. We never seem to have two games in consecutive weeks so it’s made it hard to get into a rhythm.

“Everyone that plays rugby league is competitive so we were disappointed because we wanted a crack at it. But, that wasn’t meant to be so we’ll just take it as it comes.”

Sunday’s match at Limoux kicks-off at 4pm. 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!