Four England teams will play five fixtures this autumn to step up the nation’s preparations for the Rugby League World Cup which will now be staged in the autumn of 2022.
England’s Men and Women will play a doubleheader against France in Perpignan on Saturday October 23 – with the Women’s game kicking off at 2pm French time (1pm BST), followed by the Men’s Test at 430pm local time (330pm BST).
England Wheelchair will host France, the reigning world champions, in a two-Test series at Medway Park, Gillingham on November 10 and 13 – with those matches kicking off at 730pm and 6pm respectively.
And Paul Anderson’s England Knights team will play their first match for two years against Jamaica – another nation preparing for the Men’s World Cup – at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle on Friday October 15 (745ko), in a match which will form part of the testimonial year for Jordan Turner.
These five games have all been welcomed by European Rugby League and International Rugby League, along with two other Men’s internationals – Jamaica versus Scotland on October 29, and the annual Griffin Cup fixture between Germany and Holland in Dusseldorf on October 2 – and two Wheelchair internationals for Wales, both at Glyndwr University, Wrexham – against Ireland on Saturday 16 October and Scotland on Saturday October 30.
In addition Wales and Ireland will play a Women’s international, the first for both nations, on Sunday October 17 at Colwyn Bay.
Simon Johnson, RFL Chair:
“It has been a priority to secure competitive international fixtures for our three England teams – Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair – this autumn as they refocus on the postponed Rugby League World Cup in 2022. With French Rugby League on a high following the success of the Catalans Dragons and Toulouse Olympique this season, and their Wheelchair team the reigning world champions, we are delighted to have arranged these fixtures with the French Federation, and we thank Luc Lacoste and his team for working so quickly to confirm the matches. We are also delighted that our Knights team will receive a competitive outing, providing important opposition for Jamaica in their World Cup preparations, and also supporting Jordan Turner’s testimonial.”
Shaun Wane, England Men’s Head Coach:
“A Test Match in France is a good option for us this autumn as we refocus on the World Cup in 2022. French Rugby League is on the up through Catalans Dragons and Toulouse Olympique, and I know from experience that the French fans will passionately support their team at the Stade Gilbert Brutus. Come October I’ll pick the strongest possible team and make sure we’re well prepared for a tough challenge. The France game will come with less than a year until our World Cup opener against Samoa in Newcastle, and that makes it an important part of our planning.”
Laurent Frayssinous, France Men’s Head Coach:
“We are excited about playing a strong nation like England with lot of good players. This game is the first step of our programme and plan to lead us to the RLWC 2022. We have not played for two years in France so this is an excellent opportunity for all fans and players to come back to Brutus – which is known as a hostile land for all English teams.”
Craig Richards, England Women’s Head Coach:
“It’s fantastic that we are heading over to test ourselves against a strong French side. It was really important that we did all we could to get out on the field as an England team again in 2021 to build on our victory over Wales earlier this year and I’m delighted that we will be doing that next month. This fixture offers a great opportunity for us to continue preparations whilst also providing a chance for some of our players to gain more international experience ahead of next year’s Rugby League World Cup.”
Tom Coyd, England Wheelchair Head Coach:
“After the disappointment of World Cup postponement, we welcome this opportunity to test ourselves against the reigning World Champions in a two-Test series. Our playing group worked incredibly hard, even throughout the height of the pandemic, and this is a wonderful reward for all their efforts. It is also a great chance to measure our progress against the best in the world. We are very excited to be playing at Medway Park. It is one of the best venues around for Wheelchair Rugby League and regularly hosts the Super League Grand Final – as it will do again this weekend. The support staff and local fans always put on a fantastic atmosphere for the event and that will only add to what is sure to be a brilliant contest.”
Paul Anderson, Knights Head Coach:
“After the frustrations of the last two seasons, it’s important and exciting to have another Knights fixture to look forward to, and we’re also delighted to do our bit in supporting Jamaica in their World Cup preparations, and the testimonial of Jordan Turner. Our last game against Jamaica was a really enjoyable occasion and a very worthwhile contest, and we’re looking forward to a repeat of that which will provide valuable international experience for a group of young players who have already been identified as potential contenders for the 2025 World Cup.”
Jermaine Coleman, Jamaica coach:“We’re super excited to have the opportunity to play two games and spend some time together as a group. It’s been a very difficult year for everyone and the light at the end of the tunnel was a World Cup. Unfortunately, that was taken away so we’re all very thankful for the work Alex Simmons, Jason Robinson and Romeo Monteith have done to provide us with the opportunity to play two fixtures. The England Knights game will be special to celebrate the achievements of Jordan Turner and his career so far. The Scotland Test is a fantastic opportunity for us to measure our progress against a seasoned international team, that will be a great challenge that we are all looking forward to.”
England fixtures, autumn 2021
Friday October 15: England Knights v Jamaica (Mend-a-Hose Jungle, Castleford – 745pm)
Saturday October 23: France Women v England Women (Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan – 1pm BST)
Saturday October 23: France Men v England Men (Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan – 330pm BST)
Wednesday November 10: England Wheelchair v France Wheelchair (Medway Park, Gillingham – 730pm)
Saturday November 13: England Wheelchair v France Wheelchair (Medway Park, Gillingham – 6pm)