- France national rugby league team
Infobox rugby league nation
Name = France
Badge = France National RL Team.jpg
Badge_size = 100px
Nickname = Les Tricolores or Les Chanteclairs
Fédération Française de Rugby à XIII
Coach = flagicon|Australia
Captain = flagicon|France
Home Stadium = None
RLIF Rank = 5th
Most caps =
Top try-scorer = Unknown
Top point-scorer =
First game = flagicon|England England 32 - 21 France flagicon|France (
Paris, France; 15 April 1934)
Largest win = flagicon|Serbia Serbia 0 - 120 France flagicon|France (
Beirut, Lebanon; 22 October 2003)
Largest loss = flagicon|Australia Australia 74 - 0 France flagicon|France (
Beziers, France; 4 December 1994)
World cup apps = 12
World cup first = 1954
World cup best = Runners-up, 1954; 1968
The France national rugby league team represent
Francein international rugby leaguetournaments. They are also sometimes referred to as "Les Tricolores" or more commonly "Les Chanteclairs". The team is run under the auspices of the Fédération Française de Rugby à XIIIand is largely made up of players from Super League Europeand the Elite One Championship.
France have taken part in all World Cups, twelve in total, with the first being held in 1954 in
France. They have never won the title but have finished runners-up in both 1954 and 1968. These are often considered the glory years of French rugby league as in the 1950s and 1970s the team were strong and regularly beat Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain. Since those days though, the Tricolores have not done so well, not managing to win a single match in the 1995 World Cup, but doing slightly better in the 2000 World Cup comfortably beating Tonga and South Africa, before losing to eventual finalists New Zealand.
In 2006, the
Perpignanbased team Catalans Dragonsentered Super League Europe, and have since produced a number of top-class French players. This in turn has helped the French national team and thus the team has experienced a mini-revival. In 2008 the team will compete in the 2008 World Cup in Australia.
Currently the team are ranked fifth in the world, behind Tonga but ahead of Fiji. In Europe alone they are ranked second, ahead of Ireland, Scotland and Lebanon, but behind their main rival England. Australian
John Monieis head coach of the team, and Catalans Dragonsprop Jérôme Guissetis captain.
On New Year’s Eve 1933, England and Australia played in
Paris– the first game of rugby league in France. The match was one sided, with Australia winning 63-13 in front of a crowd of 5,000, but the seed was sown. French rugby union players, disgruntled that France had been suspended from the Five Nations Championship, formed the 'Ligue Francaise de Rugby a XIII' on 6 April 1934. Jean Galia, a former rugby union international and champion boxer, lead France on a six match tour of England in 1934 and they recorded their first win in Kingston upon Hull. The national team’s first game was in Paris on 15 April 1934, losing 21-32 to England in front of a crowd of 20,000. By 1939 the French league had 155 clubs and the national side beat England and Wales to take the European championship.
The game of rugby league suffered in France during the
Second World War, as the French rugby unionauthorities worked with the collaborating Vichy regimeto have rugby league banned. Some players and officials of the sport were punished (not reinstated in the French rugby union), whilst some of the assets of the rugby league and it's clubs were handed over to the union.
After the war the French game was re-established and the French became one of rugby league’s major powers, competing in the
Rugby League World Cupand major international series against Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
In November 1951, France met "
Other Nationalities" in an International Championship match at the Boulevard, Hull which became known as the "Battle of the Boulevard". Other Nationalities won 17-14 but the match centred on the behaviour of Edouard Ponsinet, who was involved in most of the violence that happened at the game. The Other Nationalities were down to eleven players at one stage, with Arthur Cluesbeing the most serious casualty, hospitalised with head injuries. Eventually Ponsinet was sent off, ten minutes from time after breaking the nose of Jeff Burke. Despite this defeat France went on to retain the title with home victories over England and Wales.
In 1951 France embarked on their first ever tour of Australasia, led by the legendary chain-smoking fullback
Puig Aubert. Their flamboyant style of unorthodox attacking rugby attracted huge crowds. When the two nations met for the first Test the previous month, the match became the first "all ticket" international to be staged at the Sydney Cricket Ground, and attracted a crowd of over 60,000. On Saturday 30 June 1951, Australia secured a hard-fought Second Test victory over France in Brisbane by 23 points to 11. The third Test took place at Sydney Cricket Ground three weeks later. Late tries from Duncan Hall and Brian Davies could not prevent the Kangaroos from suffering an embarrassing 35-14 defeat. France played 28 matches during the three-month tour, winning 21 matches, drawing twice and losing just five times. France repeated the feat by winning again in 1955. The 1951 and 1955 French sides that toured Australia are still regarded as two of the strongest sides ever to tour that country.
France donated the original World Cup trophy, but they have never won it. The closest they went to getting their hands on it was in the very first World Cup in 1954, when they went down narrowly, 16-12, to Great Britain in the final in
Parc des Princes, Paris.
On Sunday 8th December 1963, France defeated the Australians in the first Test of a three Test series during the Kangaroo tour of Europe. The match was held in
In 1968 the French managed to reach the final of the World Cup, the last time they have achieved that feat. They beat both Great Britain and New Zealand to qualify, but lost to Australia in Sydney, and so finished runners-up again.
In 1978 France beat the Kangaroos 13-10 and 11-10 which remained Australia's last failed attempt to win an international series or competition until 2005. But for many it is this victory that signalled the end of French international dominance.
Rugby League in France went through a bad time in the 1980s. From 1985 to 1987 the team were beaten by New Zealand in
Perpignan, drew with Great Britain in Avignonand were thrashed 52-0 in Carcassonneagainst Australia. Away from home they suffered a large defeat against Great Britain in Leeds. The team recorded their only win of the World Cup beating Papua New Guinea in front of 3,500 people in Carcassonne.
In 1990 a Great Britain team including
Shaun Edwards, Garry Schofield, Martin Offiahand Denis Bettswere embarrassed by a 25-18 loss, which was France’s first victory on English soil for 23 years.
The team then met Papua New Guinea on Sunday 30 June 1991 in
Rabaul, where they were beaten 28-24. On Sunday 7th July 1991, the two sides met again for a World Cup encounter at Danny Leahy Oval, Goroka. The heat and humidity caused France all kinds of problems, but the Tricolores squeezed home 20-18.
On Sunday 27 October 1991, the first ever Test match involving the Soviet Union took place at the Stade Georges Lyvet, Villeurbanne, near Lyon, France. The Bears were beaten 26-6 by France.
The Papua New Guinea national team wound up their 1991 tour of Europe with a World Cup rated Test match against France, which was played on Sunday 24 November at the Stade Albert Domec, Carcassonne. France defeated their visitors 28-14.
In the 1995 World Cup France had to play the Samoans three days after taking a physical pounding from the Welsh in Cardiff.
France took on Italy at the Parc des Sports,
Avignonin November 1999. France needed a draw to win the Mediterranean Cup. The Italians, registered a memorable 14-10 victory, which handed the cup to the Lebanon.
The New Millennium
France travelled to
Pretoriafor a match against South Africa on Saturday 3rd November 2001. The French were too good for a young and inexperienced South African side. They scored four tries in each half, and won 44-6 after leading 24-0 at half-time. But a year later they lost 36-6 to Lebanon under the boiling sun in Tripoli (Lebanon).
In 2004 the French returned to form with a narrow 20-24 defeat of New Zealand and a losing but creditable performance against Australia. However, the game was played under modified rules and was not at the time considered an official test match. Shortly afterwards the game was retrospectively awarded test status. In 2005, the Tricolores played Australia again in
Perpignan. They suffered a 44-12 defeat. Unlike their last match against Australia, this game was played under normal rules and is considered a regular test match. This was their best performance in an official test match against Australia since 1990.
In the Winter of 2007, Papua New Guinea toured France, and in both matches that the two nations played, France won. After those two games a match in Paris was scheduled against New Zealand, on their way back from a 3-0 test defeat against Great Britain. A last minute try secured a 21-16 New Zealand win in front of a decent crowd despite Paris rail strikes. France will be at the 2008 World Cup as they have been granted automatic qualification. They were drawn in Group B and will play Scotland in
Canberraand Fiji in Wollongong.
In 2009 France will take place in the World Four Nations Rugby league Tournament. rl|France will compete against rl|England, rl|New Zealand and rl|Australia. The Tournament is to be held in England and France. It is already rumoured that the opening ceremony will be held at
Wembley Stadiumand will host the opening game of the Tournament England V Australia. Nothing official has been announced regarding venues.
2008 World Cup Squad
"Stats as of
October 17, 2007":
Elite One Championship
Lord Derby Cup
* European Nations Cup
Union Treiziste Catalane
* [http://www.ffr13.com/Default.aspx Federation Francaise de Rugby a Treize national team page] (in French)
* [http://rl1908.com/Rugby-League-News/france51.htm France 1951]
* [http://www.rugbyleague.org/index.php?showforum=202 France Rugby League Fans Forums - RugbyLeague.org]
* [http://www.rlwc.com/ 2008 Rugby League World Cup Site]
* [http://lemondedurugby.chez-alice.fr/histfranc.html French Rugby League Team History at lemondedurugby.chez-alice.fr]
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