Written by Callum Walker
Home to the Catalans Dragons, the Stade Gilbert Brutus has become a hotspot for Super League tourists travelling to the south of France in the hope for sun, sea and good rugby league.
Built in 1962, the stadium was named in honour of Gilbert Brutus – a French rugby union player, coach, chairman and referee, born in August 1887 and who died during wartime in March 1944 in Perpignan.
Having held 25 international games, the Stade Gilbert Brutus was previously used by rugby league and rugby union clubs in Northern Catalonia in the 1970s and ‘80s. That was before it became the home of Super League side Catalans Dragons – who entered the competition in 2006.
For it to be Super League standard though, improvements and expansion needed to be made. Prior to 2007, the Gilbert Brutus could only fit 4,200 spectators, 900 of whom were seated.
Of course, that wasn’t enough and after two constructions later – in 2006 and 2010 – the stadium capacity was raised up to 13,000 by the end of the noughties with three all-seater stands.
As a foreign supporter heading to the Stade Gilbert Brutus, it is almost like a carnival atmosphere. Standing in the Castillet in the Old Town square, there has been no feeling like it on any away day so far in Super League or the Championship.
The town itself is a quaint one with an incredible heritage and beautiful buildings to see. Of course, if you’re there just for the partying then most stay in the seaside resorts of Lloret de Mar or Tossa de Mar, but if you’re wanting more of the typical French experience then staying in and around Perpignan is certainly worth it.
Inside, the stadium is adorned with yellow, red and white seats – the colour of the Dragons – with a particularly partisan feeling in the air. It really is a spectacle and the stadium announcer and fans really play their part in adding to the hostility.
It’s become a household name within Super League, but the Stade Gilbert Brutus is one of the most feared away grounds in the top-flight. The travel, experience and surrounding areas has made it a very popular destination for travelling supporters. And, that’s likely to continue.