Richie Myler’s move from Warrington to Catalans Dragons was more than your average rugby league transfer.

After all, few Super League stars are married to a successful TV personality like Helen Skelton-Myler. The couple, along with son Ernie, travelled 1,000 miles to swap life in England for Perpignan in the south of France. BBC Sport spoke to the couple about the impact on their personal lives, careers and family since making the switch.
Myler SOM 2015
Warrington – population 202,200 – is a microcosm of rugby league, a town that thrives on its team, and the players are hugely significant members of the community.

Built on a heritage of wire-making amongst other industries – hence the nickname ‘The Wire’ – the town rallies around the league club as the most prominent sports team in the local area.

Perpignan – population approximately 117,000 – is, by contrast, a quiet city with an annual average of 2,500 hours of sunshine.

It is a league hotbed though, having staged countless international matches and sustained a club long before the Dragons were entered into the Super League.

Richie Myler: “From what I’m used to – the hustle and bustle – it’s really chilled out and the weather helps, it’s good.

“It’s more the culture around the place, the slower way of life – you can’t get anything done between 12-2 – everything is shut.”

The Mylers live close to the beach and marina at Canet-Plage. The Mylers have settled into Canet-Plage, a seaside town about seven miles away from Perpignan. It has been a popular location for import players, such as Steve Menzies, Scott Dureau and Stacey Jones. Helen Skelton-Myler: “It’s like living in a film, ocean, beach etc. We got our apartment sorted half-way through last season.

“Michael Monaghan is assistant coach [former team-mate of Myler] and he said he knew where we’d want to be. He said: ‘Don’t put her in the village, make sure Helen’s by the beach’.

“All the Australians have moved into Canet-Plage, I’ve never spent more time with a random group of Aussie blokes.

“We had Christmas Day with Dave Taylor and Todd Carney, not quite what I was expecting for the baby’s first Christmas, but it was interesting nonetheless!”

Language barrier

If moving job, house and country was not enough of an upheaval for the Myler family, then the additional factor of a new language further complicated matters.

Helen’s language skills, having studied French at A-level were honed when she worked in France for a summer, but for Richie it was a new advent to his schedule.

Richie Myler: “They’ve been really patient with our French. It’s getting there, we had a presentation that I had to speak at, and it went OK.

“It’s been a bit tricky. I learned German at my school.”

Helen Skelton-Myler: “He does himself down, he has lessons three times a week, and he had to do a little speech at the club promo the other day and he did it.

“He’s better than he makes out.”

Making friends and making efforts

While 25-year-old England stand-off Myler has a ready-made bunch of friends in his new team-mates, for Helen life is a little more complex.

With a young baby to look after, and her own career to manage, there is less emphasis on socialising.

Helen Skelton-Myler: “We’ve been down to Andorra with Pat Richards and his family. The club are very family-orientated, which is nice for me because I came out here and didn’t know anyone.

“The chairman took us ladies out for Sunday roast, the day before New Years Eve he gave wives, girlfriends and mums chocolates because sport has been demanding over the festive period with the players training Christmas day.

“The other wives are really helpful, I go out with the French girls and they make sure I’m included.”

Work/life balance

Catalans’ unique position in Super League means plenty of travel back to England for games, while Helen combines time in Canet with regular work assignments back in London and Manchester.

However, when both are back in France, there is plenty of time to explore and spend time together in the relative privacy Perpignan brings.

Helen Skelton-Myler: “I’m coming back and forwards more than I thought I would. When we left we did this whole emotional goodbye, but for work I went home for a week in December, work in January, I go back for games etc.

“When I’m in France I’m 100% mummy mode, cooking, cleaning, walking the baby down the promenade, visiting the markets. I don’t mind that, because I know last week I was working.

“When I’m at work I’m full on, but when I’m here there are no distractions – I’m in my own Catalans bubble. When Richie’s off it’s just us three, we do nice family-fun things.”

Richie Myler: “The opportunity to be outside a lot more is good for kids. “There are a lot more days where you can plan to do stuff.”

The arrival of son Ernie in June 2015 was the first child for the couple, and a welcome boost to both families, although moving to France has made life slightly more awkward.

Helen Skelton-Myler: “There are obvious compromises, I can’t see my mum for a cup of coffee, and she’s my best friend.

“I made friends with the woman in the tourist information office just so I had someone to speak to.

“We miss our family, Ernie is the first grandchild for both our parents, but our families have always been around sport and they understand.”

Leaving Warrington

Richie Myler: “It was a time for change for both of us, we needed a change of direction. “I needed a new challenge and what better way than to come to a new club in a new country.”

Additional reporting by BBC Radio Merseyside’s Phil Kinsella.