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Bastille Day is France’s national day. A day to celebrate all things French around the world. This year, in rugby league, we can celebrate France’s long and enduring contribution to the growth and development of the sort.
Founded in 1934, the Federation Francaise de Rugby a XIII (FFRXIII) has been through some troughs and peaks. Initially the growth was meteoric. The popularity of the new sport was attracting clubs, players and fans in their thousands play and watch. Somehow the spirit of rugby league was in tune with the spirit of France. However, World War II intervened and the sport was subject to regulations that appeared to be designed to strangle the game.
Fast forward to 1951 and the French national team illustrated in no uncertain terms that this infant was not for dying. Led by mercurial captain, Puig Aubert, France stunned their hosts with a 2-1 series victory and thus announced a new challenger in the international game. A challenger who returned to Australia in 1955 and repeated the feat.
Perhaps, France’s largest contribution to international rugby league is the creation of the first ever rugby world cup in 1954. The current trophy is the original which was first offered for competition in 1954 in France and is named after the driving force behind the idea, Paul Barriere.
Bonne fête nationale to those celebrating! 🇫🇷
— Rugby League World Cup 2021 (@RLWC2021) July 14, 2021
Today, French Rugby League is once again on the rise. President, Luc Lacoste has ambitious plans for the sport in France to take its place as a leading player on the French sporting landscape but also on the world stage. FFRXIII has announced that it is the preferred candidate to host RLWC2025. M Lacoste is working alongside the French government and International Rugby League (IRL) to deliver the competition to French fans and to invite international fans to visit a great rugby league country.
The Elite Championship is growing in popularity and quality and through livestreaming, it is available around the world. There are 155 clubs spread through 24 regional committees which caters for over 20,000 players. With both Toulouse and Catalans Dragons sitting on top of the Championship and Super League, these are optimistic signs for rugby league in France and the RLWC2025 could well be the perfect way to celebrate the 91st birthday of “rugby a Treize”.
Luc Lacoste is excited about the prospects for the sport with the boost that it can provide both domestically and internationally. “France RLWC2025, we want it to happen, and we are not alone! In fact, everyone is behind us. Already messages are pouring in from the Southern Hemisphere, Asia, Africa, the United Kingdom and the Middle East. In fact, everyone was waiting for one thing, for France the great historical land of XIII, to wake up.
“With this candidacy, FFRXIII has decided to force fate and has placed French rugby league among the big players, and it fits perfectly into the French governments national heritage plan.
“The match has just started, so we are all together, confident and united… and everything will become possible! “