Ancely played in the pack last season for Lezignan and had a couple of run outs for the Dragons back in 2011. Be interesting how Catalans U19s impacts the link with St Esteve next term. Rather than run the latter themselves have a link up with other local team Palau as well.
With three sides possibily traversing the Channel in 2016 if we include Toulouse the game here at some type of cross road. Outside those formations factor in the now steady stream of French players now linked to both SL and Championship clubs. Its certainly focusing the minds of treizistes here of the role of the local competitions and their function. May be, just may be a glimmer on the horizon this autumn with the Tricolores. Not expecting miracles just yet but hoping for a turning of some kind that France can get off its hind legs at last. Wont be easy as the Pacific nations lot dipping into the NRL big time are also improving year on year.
Agree with all that, more French players are being exposed to professional environments and I think we'll see a better French team as a result.
The obstacles in my view is modernising the French federation to meet the challenges of a talented national team. At the moment they are simply not up to it and also don't have the revenue streams to achieve the level of excellence required to bridge the gap with the top three and pacific nations.
They need a top class national coach and director of rugby to look at the game at all levels, provide elite training and facilities and have access to the best French players all year round. The team that played in the Four Nations qualifiers were simply not up to scratch.
They also need to lobby for continuous home games test series against the top tier nations which will allow that extra revenue to come in, this is the crossroads the sport is at in France they need to aspire to that next level now.
Another thing which hasn't been mentioned is how does French RL hold on to it's best players if a Top 14 club comes knocking with their vast amounts of money.
..ok Sean Edwards is 2nd gen Irish...he can often be heard talking in interviews about his irishness....he has stated many times he considers himself Irish and not English..played with Ireland...I'm pretty sure he's Wigan St pats...which is a massive Irish club ....also Andy Farrell is 2nd gen Irish ..both parents Irish ..his wife is 2nd gen Irish ..and they are from a prominent Irish area ...the others on that list would have been all considered at one time best in their position hence the fact they have all played for England.....
Lancashire, or what was considered to be the old lancashire boundaries has a large population of people with Irish descent.