Rugby League

Challenge Cup

1 Jun 2024

Classy Catalans take Sheffield by storm to retain Beftred Wheelchair Challenge Cup trophy

Classy Catalans take Sheffield by storm to retain Beftred Wheelchair Challenge Cup trophy

Holders Catalans Dragons were in imperious form as they retained their Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup title with an 81-18 victory over Wigan Warriors at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield this afternoon (Saturday 1 June).

It was a performance that must surely see the Dragons ranked among the best sides currently playing any variation of Rugby League – and it was inspired by four-try player of the match Jeremy Bourson.

Bourson it was who opened the scoring as early as the fifth minute, acrobatically clutching Nico Claussels’ lofted cross-kick for the kind of try his Dragons’ stablemate Tom Johnstone has become renowned. And it was Bourson who rounded off the first half scoring with his hat-trick try in the 32ndminute with yet another display of individual skill and sheer speed.   

In between those tries, Clausells had chased his own seemingly innocuous kick through to steal a try from under the noses of the Warriors defence, Arno Vargas finished off a flowing move for the first of his own eye-catching hat-trick and Bourson had pounced for his second before the Warriors had even got off the mark.

Trailing 22-0, Wigan needed inspiration – and it came through skipper Dec Roberts, whose 17th minute try and conversion narrowed the gap to 16 points – a deficit that was narrowed still further when Adam Rigby found himself on the end of a superb team move just three minutes later.

But 12-22 was as good as it got for the Warriors. For a while it was all quiet in the Dragons’ den, the cup holders’ early fire temporarily dampened. There were fewer thrills and more spills, but the fire was not completely extinguished.

And with Clausells and Bourson scoring again before half-time, the trophy was already halfway to Perpignan with the Dragons 34-12 ahead.

In the second half the Dragons treated the 400-plus crowd to an exhibition worthy of the Harlem Globetrotters, with skipper and England World Cup winner Sebastien Bechara scoring the first of his hat-trick in the 41st minute – his 72nd minute hat trick try being the pick of the bunch as he showed an astonishing turn of speed to burst through the Warriors ranks.

There were further tries from Vargas, Bourson, Dore and Nico Clausells, plus a cheeky drop goal from the latter’s uncle, Gilles, with Wigan having only a late Jack Heggie consolation to show for their efforts.

“It’s great to have won it again”, said Catalans Dragons skipper Seb Bechara. “I’ve said before that winning the Challenge Cup last year meant a lot to me and the rest of the guys. We forced a few too many passes in the first half, but in the end it was a good performance. It’s great to be going home in with the cup again.”

“Wigan will be gutted”, England Head Coach Tom Coyd told BBC Sport. “But they’ll also have enjoyed coming up against these great Catalans Dragons players.

“Not everything Jeremy Bourson did turned to gold, but it was a platinum performance. His pace strikes fear into the opposition; he attracts defenders like magnets, meaning he creates space for his teammates too. He’s made a massive difference to the Dragons – as if they weren’t good enough already!”

Coyd selected a National Performance Squad earlier this week, who will gather at Wembley Stadium next Saturday to watch the other two Betfred Challenge Cup Finals – Men’s and Women’s – before training at Medway Park in Gillingham on Sunday. This was an indication of the scale of the challenge they will again face in international fixtures against France later this year.


Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup Final as it happened:

Catalans Dragons 81 Wigan Warriors 18



Tries – Bourson 4, N Clausells 3, Vargas 3, Bechara 3, Dore

Goals – N Clausells 4, Bechara, G Clausells 7

Drop Goal – G Clausells



Tries – D Roberts, Rigby 2

Goals – D Roberts 2, Heggie