Rugby league: Sonny Bill Williams v Israel Folau could force venue switch for Catalans Dragons

  • 18/02/2020

The Sonny Bill Williams factor has the Catalans Dragons considering a venue switch for their April Super League clash with the Toronto Wolfpack.

The match will mark the first rugby league encounter between Williams and Israel Folau in more than 10 years. 

The French club expects huge interest in the battle between the two cross-code stars and will likely move to a much bigger stadium to accommodate the crowd.

The 67,000-seat Stade Velodrome in Marseille is favoured, while the Stade Mayol (18,200) in Toulon is also an option.

The Dragons' home ground in Perpignan has a limited capacity of 11,800.

Meanwhile, the club has dismissed allegations fans had rainbow-colour flags confiscated during last weekend's Super League match with Castleford.

Traveling fans, who were protesting the French club's signing of Folau, complained that security had ordered them to remove the symbols of LGBTQ pride. 

In a statement, Catalans welcomed the support of diversity at their home games, but claimed one fan had breached stadium rules by covering an advertising hoarding with a rainbow flag. 

"Catalans Dragons are happy to confirm that supporters flags are welcome in all the stands at Gilbert Brutus Stadium," the statement read.

"We noted the complaints of certain Castleford supporters, but having reviewed the CCTV footage and numerous photos in the media, we can confirm that supporters were able to display their flags and colours throughout.

"However, it is important that flags and banners do not cover advertising boards.

"Stadium security staff are briefed to ensure that advertising boards are kept clear throughout the game.

"The investigation found that one person was asked to remove a flag, because it was covering an advertising board."

The Rugby Football League is carrying out its own investigation, but said it was too early to draw firm conclusions.