Written by Stuart McLennan
Photo by M.M Photographie
Former France national coach Aurelien Cologni says French Rugby League still has a lot of work to do despite the recent achievements that saw Catalans narrowly lose the Super League Grand Final and Toulouse promoted to the top tier.
“This is a big performance for the two clubs. But to be honest, French rugby league needs to build its professional competition,” Cologni told Everything Rugby League.
Cologni coached France between 2016 and 2020. He started playing rugby league for Catalans at age 5. His father and brothers also represented the Perpignan based club. As a player the back rower represented France on a number of occasions and represented the Catalan Dragons in their inaugural Super League season.
After coaching Lezignan to the French Elite 1 Championship premiership last season Cologni has accepted a position as defence coach with the Carcassonne rugby union club while remaining with Lezignan FC XIII as Recruitment Director.
— Fédération Française de Rugby XIII (@FFRXIII) October 8, 2021
“I’ve got a lot of respect for the Super League but to have to leave the country to play at the best level shows that we have a lot of work to do if we want to achieve together the objective to improve this discipline in France. Toulouse spent 6 or 7 years to get to Super League but we have to create more professional clubs in this country to have our own competition. It is not enough and too long for league development.
“I hope one day we will have a professional competition in France,” Cologni concluded.
French Rugby League Federation President Luc Lacoste, who is currently working on obtaining the green light for France to host the 2025 Rugby League World Cup, recently told Steve Brady for the Total Rugby League website this may be the greatest ever opportunity for French Rugby League.
“I have always believed that French Rugby League will be the future of Rugby League in the world,” said Lacoste.
“Two teams, two league-leaders, two Grand Finalists, it is perhaps the greatest opportunity French Rugby League has ever had and we are determined to seize the day.”