Photo by Marie-Pierre Volle
The village of Albi in the South of France is famous for being the birthplace of painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. In fact the museum there holds the largest public collection of his art in the world.
On April 22 the Racing Club Albi team is hoping to add to the town’s history by winning the Lord Derby Cup after they last won it in 1974 and were runners up in 2008. The French Rugby League Cup, also called Lord Derby Cup, is the premier knockout competition for the sport of rugby league football in France.
Hoping to contribute to a victory is Australian Brad Wall who came to Albi via Berowra Wallabies, South Sydney, North Sydney, Asquith Magpies,St Gaudens and Villeneuve in France.
“The competition here in France was always appealing to me and the chance to play and travel Europe was something I couldn’t pass up,” the 28 year old told Everything Rugby League.
“I had previously been in contact with an English club but due to visa reasons I chose to play in France, it’s been home ever since.”
Wall arrived in France in 2016, playing with two other Elite 1 clubs before finding a home at Albi in 2021. He admits to enjoying the lifestyle and rugby league in the south of France.
“I do speak a little French, with a terrible accent obviously. I have a French partner so she helps me quite a lot. It’s a tough competition over here and the level gets better and better every year, it’s a good level of footy and it’s enjoyable.”
Wall and Albi can take heart from the fact they scored a victory over Carcassonne, their opponents, in January this year but they are under no illusions about the tough task ahead against the Lord Derby Cup and Elite1 reigning champions who boast another Aussie, Corey Mulhall, in good form.
“Since I’ve been in France Carcassonne has always had a good team with quality players. If we can control the middle of the field, that will give us a good chance to get the win.
“I haven’t actually (spoken to Corey Mulhall). From what I’ve seen he looks like he’s been going well over here. It’s always good to play against other Aussies over here so hopefully we get the win.
“It’s an exciting time for Albi. It was an amazing feeling to get to win in the semi final in front of our home crowd. To win the cup would be very special.”
Albi will play Carcassonne in the French Cup Final at Stade Gilbert Brutus in Perpignan on 22nd April.