On Saturday night we witnessed one of the main reasons why international rugby league is so easy to poke fun at. The game goes through periods where the international game moves forwards in leaps and bounds and then we see a game which has the potential to undo much of the hard work in the battle for hearts and minds.
England broke records on Saturday night with the 84 – 4 smashing of France. It was an embarrassment for the French and rugby league in general. Diehard fans of the international game must throw their hands up in despair every time they see a game like this.
To show how big the gap is between the top 3 and the rest you just need to look at the current World rankings. England are ranked 3rd and France are ranked 5th in the rugby league world. How a 3rd ranked team can rack up 84 points against a team ranked 5th is beyond belief.
It’s not as if the rugby league community haven’t tried to help France. The first fully professional French team kicked off with the birth of Paris Saint-Germain who entered the newly formed Super League in 1996. They only lasted two seasons. Like all things rugby league they tried to put a team into a city that had zero interest in rugby league. The experiment was doomed to fail as many poorly planned rugby league experiments tend to do.
In 2006 the 2nd attempt to enter a French Team into Super League went ahead with the arrival of the Catalans Dragons. This time they did all the right things and most importantly the team is based in the South West of France in the Catalonia region which can be argued as French Rugby League Heartland. The Catalans have been the shining star in French Rugby League over the last 10 years.
Toulouse will be going for a 2nd stint in the English Championship next year and it is hoped that they can stay in the competition for the long term this time after a short stint a few years back. Toulouse will have a chance to build their brand and also the quality of French Rugby League players which it seems is much needed at this point in time.
France have an international team that now are predominately made up of fully professional rugby league players. From 10 years ago the standard of French Rugby League and players in general have increased. So Saturday night’s record score makes the whole situation even more frustrating.
Maybe the French need more players running around in the Super League and NRL. Could a Super Coach turn the national team around? If you have any ideas feel free to let us and the French know.
What makes the whole situation much worse is the game on Saturday night was not televised or even live streamed over the internet. Surely in this day and age if the RLIF / RLEF want to grow the game and take rugby league to the world they can provide a live video stream or at worse a live radio stream.
The handing of this is just embarrassing as a rugby league fan. If the administration won’t take the game seriously, what chance do we have of the average rugby league fan who follows their rugby league team throughout the year, take any interest in the end of season internationals.
I am sure the England and New Zealand test series taking place over the next few weeks will restore faith in the international game.