Leeds Rhinos Nostalgia: Atkinson scores four tries in front of cameras as French side thrashed

John Atkinson.
John Atkinson.
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NEXT YEAR will mark the 10th anniversary of Catalans Dragons’ entry into Super League.

The French team made their inaugural visit to Headingley on September 15, 2006, when they were thumped 60-12.

But that was not the first time Leeds had faced a side from Perpignan on home soil. On November 15, 1969, Leeds squared up to a team from the town for the short-lived European Club Championship.

The game was billed as Leeds versus Perpignan, but the French side were actually X111 Catalan.

They were later to merge with AS Saint Esteve to form Union Treiziste Catalane (UTC), who became Catalans Dragons when they were accepted into Super League.

The BBC were behind the idea of the English champions facing their French equivalent, regarding it as an ideal way to show off their new colour technology.

Leeds had been due to face Batley at Mount Pleasant on November 15, but that game was pushed back a day to make way for the exhibition fixture.

A crowd of 5,145 turned up to see how the French team, including three internationals, would fare against the best of British.

The answer was not very well as Leeds cruised to a 31-5 victory.

There was little between the teams early on and the visitors took the lead when Jean Capdouze crossed for a try which Pendaranda converted.

But the French team tired as the half wore on and the Loiners ran in four tries in 10 minutes, through Barry Seabourne, John Langley, Bill Ramsey and John Atkinson, to take a 14-5 interval lead.

Atkinson stole the show in the second half, adding three more tries as Leeds’ backs began to run riot.

Ken Eyre and Alan Smith were the other try scorers, but teenage full-back John Holmes managed to convert just two of Leeds’ nine touchdowns, as well as missing an early penalty.

Leeds also won the following afternoon, 12-5 at Batley and 33-0 against visitors Doncaster two days after that, but a spell of five games in 11 days was completed by defeats at Hull (9-8) and Castleford (9-7 in the Floodlit Trophy).


Leeds 31

(Tries: Atkinson 4, Seabourne, K Eyre, Langley, Ramsey, Smith. Goals: Holmes 2)

Perpignan 5
(Try: Capdouze. Goal Pendaranda.)

Leeds: Holmes, Smith, Langley, Watson, Atkinson, Shoebottom, Seabourne, Barnard, Shepherd, K Eyre, A Eyre, Ramsay, Batten. Subs: Hick, Eccles.

Perpignan: Praves, Charcos, Pendaranda, Matoulan, Michan, Capdouze, Clerc, Mas, Rebujent, Peytavi, Olet, Bardes, Humbert. Subs: Courty, Saboureau.

Referee: R Thomas.

Attendance: 5,145.