Where is Pia?|
Pia is to Perpignan what Otley is to Leeds a small town a couple of miles north, situated on a salt marsh a couple of miles in land from the Mediterranean sea.
Who are they?
SM Pia are the â€˜Flying Donkeysâ€™ thatâ€™s who!
The â€˜Burro de Piaâ€™ is a popular and non too complimentary Catalan folk tale. Apparently a thistle had started to grow at the top of Piaâ€™s bell tower and being unable to get at it themselves the local elders came up with the idea of hoisting a donkey up to the top via a pulley so that it would eat the offending item. Unsurprisingly the â€˜flying donkeyâ€™ was strangled on its journey up but in the same way as Hartlepoolâ€™s residents will always be known as the â€˜Monkey hangersâ€™ the sonâ€™s and daughters of Pia are the â€˜Flying donkeysâ€™.
The rugby team adopted the nickname enjoying the comparisons with the obstinate, determined donkey.
Piaâ€™s squad is largely made of local French players but also have some Antipodean journeymen to bolster their ranks in Dean Bosnich, Brett Oâ€™Farrel and Papua New Guineaâ€™s 2000 World Cup player Tom Oâ€™Reilly who had a short and largely unsuccessful spell with Warrington in 2001/02.
The one notable star is international Maxime GrÃ©sÃ¨que, who you might have seen playing for France in last autumnâ€™s European Nationâ€™s Cup. The goal kicking stand off took Keighley apart in the 4th round with 3 tries, 8 goals and a field goal and London Skolars in the 3rd round with 4 tries and 9 goals!
Averaging 31.5 points a game in the Challenge Cup this year the former UTC man is the one player to watch out for â€“ if only for the fact he is Cala Millor Rhinoâ€™s long lost twin.
How will they perform?
Pia are to French rugby what Castleford are in the UK: a small club who will always raise their game against larger more glamorous sides and take great pride in frequently upsetting the odds.
Like all French sides Pia will love to attack from any position and rattled up 56 points against Keighley and 58 against London Skolars so the Leeds defence will need to be focussed as the Frenchmen will provide good value entertainment.
This shouldnâ€™t be a major hurdle for Leeds but the occasion and the match promise to provide good entertainment for everyone in attendance.