Photo by Carcassonne XIII
Since taking up the role of President of the French Rugby League Federation Luc Lacoste has been a breath of fresh air for the sport in France.
The Paris based businessman who hails from Bordeaux walked into the role without baggage. His ambition for the sport in France and general positivity has impressed rugby league administrators and fans alike.
Rugby league in France has been riding a wave the last few weeks after Catalans contested the Super League Grand Final and the next day Toulouse were promoted to the top tier after winning the Championship decider.
Lacoste is negotiating for France to host the 2025 World Cup and les Chanticleers will face England in an international fixture at Perpignan’s Stade Gilbert Brutus on Saturday.
Everything Rugby League put Mr Lacoste through a ‘Set of Six’ to see how France intends to make the most of this current wave of success.
STUART MCLENNAN: You had a health scare recently Luc. How has your recovery been?
LUC LACOSTE: Yes, I did have a heart attack last April. But I am fit now. The passion for the mission that drives me has certainly helped me to recover quickly.
SM: With the success of Catalans reaching the Super League Grand Final and Toulouse being promoted to the top tier, how can France capitalise on these achievements?
LL: FFRXIII did not wait for these two wonderful moments. Since January 2021 we have been working hard. For example, France had already taken back its prerogatives within the European Rugby League and within the International Rugby League. In addition, the entire training scheme for our young people has been completely revised, we have reviewed all the staff of the French teams, we have spread out over the territory, set up all the commissions, reviewed our communication, made agreements with new territories.
And then there is our bid to host the World Cup, which also focuses on our sport. We are making progress on a lot of subjects specific to our Federation.
It is true that the extraordinary results of the Dragons and the TO undeniably help our sport in France. But all this is not enough and I often say to my team: we thought we were at full speed, well now we have to accelerate!!!
SM: Former France coach Aurelien Cologni said that France needs to have its own professional competition. Do you agree?
LL: Of course I can only agree with Aurélien. But it is not enough to say it or to decree it. That is rather easy. You have to succeed in doing it, and for that you need money and the whole of the Elite to question themselves. I am working on it and I hope to be able to propose changes during the year 2022.
SM: The French Elite 1 Championship appears to have a lot of potential. James Maloney has joined Lezignan this season. Is there an opportunity to promote this competition more widely through broadcast and marketing?
LL: Of course. It’s something we need to make a lot of progress on. But you know we have a broadcaster this next year : Via and Sport en France (Free TV everywhere in France). The media will be more interested in us if we are more interesting to them. It’s up to us to do the job.
SM: What are your expectations as far as the result in the international match against England and the attendance figure?
— Fédération Française de Rugby XIII (@FFRXIII) October 20, 2021
LL: Even if it is the beginning of the holidays and people have booked rentals etc, and despite the constraints of the compulsory health pass, which restricts access to the stadium, I hope that the world of rugby à 13 will mobilise.
For the sporting result, I expect above all the involvement and commitment of our players. England are clearly favourites but I hope that our players will give the change. In any case, I think behaviour will be the most important thing.
SM: How confident are you of France hosting the World Cup in 2025?
LL: There is still work to be done and not everything is settled. A lot of work has been done in record time and our project is fabulous. It serves our sport in France but also in Europe. I think the IRL has understood this too. However, not everything is settled yet and there are still walls to overcome. And not everything depends on France alone.