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eal

Why did French RL go downhill?

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When you look back at the record of the French national team from 1950-1980 it is quite impressive, they were clearly a world power. What exactly happened in the 1980s to cause the game to fall off a cliff? We hear a lot about the Vichy government, but that was before the 1980s and must surely have played a peripheral role by the time the tough times really hit. 

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Not entirely sure. The French RL setting their face against TV couldn't have helped. Being banned in schools too. However, before TV, if you came from Lezignan or Pia you aspired to play RL. Beziers or Dax, RU. Once the 5 Nations and club games were widely available to watch, the attitude and money would have changed, not to mention the nationwide exposure I imagine.

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Vichy is always credited with killing of RL in France, but French RL was at its strongest in the 30 years after WWII. It seems they really lost the plot in the 1980s.

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It’s a lot easier to compete with semi pro teams and even get the odd win. Once the Aussies and then GB went more professional amateur and part time players will find it much harder to compete. 

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On ‎9‎/‎11‎/‎2018 at 10:18 PM, eal said:

Vichy is always credited with killing of RL in France, but French RL was at its strongest in the 30 years after WWII. It seems they really lost the plot in the 1980s.

Vichy had already eroded the foundations and RL was up against it thereafter. An estimated 2 million francs of assets were confiscated, which were never returned. That is over 630,000,000 Euros in todays money. That is before you get to the players and clubs that were lost. Without a firm base any sport struggles.

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Could it be that talented players like Jean marc Bourrel went to play rugby union in 1980 because there was and is far more money in rugby union than  in rugby league? 

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How did RU have so much more money than RL in France? Was it simply a much more popular sport? Again, Vichy was a good 30-40 years before RL tanked in France so blaming everything on Vichy doesn't really tell the whole story.

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French rugby league has missed important stages like profesionnalism, television etc. Some clubs in major cities like Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille or Paris' have not managed to stay at the highest level because their sponsors and financiers have disappeared. There are only small towns with a strong Treizist culture that are fortunately financially supported by local mayors. but when they disappear or are not elected (like Pia): they collapse. The French sports system is very far from the Anglo-Saxon model, the public authorities own the stadiums, give grants, choose programs on the public TV channels. The Treizistes now have no networks and connections with the world of work and money. There simply should be more Bernard Guasch, everywhere.

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www.fcl13.fr FCL XIII - Lezignan Corbieres Rugby League

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Short answer: it didn't deliver the reason why RL was set up in the first place in the 30's in this country : to overtake rugby (union). The early nickname of 'neo-rugby' was there for a reason.

Once its mission failed and it had no real social/regional boundaries to regroup behind like it did England. It went donwhil fast. The 80's results were juste à late echo, the disaster was set in motion way before (50's, 60's).

Edited by Gambass

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On 13/09/2018 at 14:49, kiwis 13 6 said:

I think one contributing factor was In 1981 the french Grand Final that was televised nationally was abandoned after a couple of minutes due to players having an all in brawl.  

Was that shown on English news as I remember saying a big brawl on BBC news and there was loads of flying kicks and thinking at the time were these French Players also Martial Artist or Savate or Le Boxe Française experts lol

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On 21/04/2019 at 10:28, TheConductor said:

Was that shown on English news as I remember saying a big brawl on BBC news and there was loads of flying kicks and thinking at the time were these French Players also Martial Artist or Savate or Le Boxe Française experts lol

I dont know if it made TV news in UK, I am from NZ and was really young at the time.. 1st remember reading about it in 1988 rugby league annual article on French league said game in France was still feeling the effects of the abandoned 1981 french grand final. 

Edited by kiwis 13 6

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On 20/04/2019 at 23:28, TheConductor said:

Was that shown on English news as I remember saying a big brawl on BBC news and there was loads of flying kicks and thinking at the time were these French Players also Martial Artist or Savate or Le Boxe Française experts lol

I remember seeing the brawl on the BBC News. If memory serves me well one of the main culprits was Jean-Jaques Cologni, father of the current French coach.


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I believe a big part of the French downfall was an agreement between the codes not to take each others players in the early 70's, if you look through the French teams previous to this they contained many ex union players including internationals which helped the league team. I asked someone about this agreement and this is what he told me:

The agreement was called ‘The Protocol’ between the two (rival) French Federations - of Rugby and Jeu a X111.
It was introduced in 1972, agreed to to by the respective Presidents, Albert Ferrasse and Rene Mauries.
The basic agreement was that clubs from one Federation could not sign players from the rival Federation after they had reached adulthood, (I think this was the age of 20, ie. the age limit for ‘Juniors’) but if they were internationals at Junior level they were also subject to the ‘Protocol’ no signing agreement.
 
It was a deeply unpopular move among Rugby League people as they saw it as a Rugby Union ploy to stop League clubs recruiting Union players, which had been going on since Rugby League was first introduced to France – but, at the same time, Union clubs were very active in snapping up talented League Juniors as they came under the age barrier.  It was seen as Ferrasse strangling a big part of League’s player-supply and also one of its biggest sources of prestige and publicity – and it was done with the backing and approval of the Ministry of Sport.
 
Look back through the history of French R.L. and so many players came into the game from R.Union. ‘The Protocol’ stopped all that.
 
‘The Protocol’ was finally blown out of the water in 1980 when the League’s biggest star, Jean-Marc Bourret, was poached by Rugby Union.  They said it was in response to League signing a Union junior international (Serge Costals) so all ‘protocol’ was cancelled.  And, once again, the government’s Ministry of Sport allowed the Rugby Union to have its way. 
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On 28/04/2019 at 21:39, TheConductor said:

Its sad to see the crowds for grand finals drop from 1960s but still had some good ones 1970 and 1977 and I wonder how the French League couldn't get constant 20000 crowds all the time ?

Even in the 80's they had decent crowds to the Championship Final in Toulouse and Cup Final.

 

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On 01/05/2019 at 01:51, rlno1 said:

 

 
‘The Protocol’ was finally blown out of the water in 1980 when the League’s biggest star, Jean-Marc Bourret, was poached by Rugby Union.  

Great response - adds a lot of backstory.

The fact though that he was "poached" by an amateur sport in 1980 (the sport did not go openly professional for another 15 years) shows that although RL was 'professional' in name and openly semi-pro in nature, it must have paid an absolute pittance.  I am sure that while french club union paid money in the 80s, amounts involved would hardly have been life-changing.


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Was either late 70s or early 80s and ARL sent a number of juniors to France to play at FFRXIII clubs. Despite the fact they were 'professionals' and paid to play, apparently the perfectly amateur French RU clubs tried to sign most of them to their game !

Not sure if true but was told that at one point you could be paid up to a certain amount per game and still be considered 'amateur', this was match fee, NOT expenses as far as any sport in France was concerned.


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she really wants to be a rich widow

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On Backchat last week Mike Rylance was a guest and he was asked this question. He said something like there were many reasons but didn't go into them. Perhaps there were too many or maybe he wanted people to obtain his book "The Struggle and the Daring: The remaking of French rugby league" which covers the post WWII game in France. 


My blog: https://rugbyl.blogspot.co.nz/

It takes wisdom to know when a discussion has run its course.

It takes reasonableness to end that discussion. 

 

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On 01/05/2019 at 00:51, rlno1 said:

I believe a big part of the French downfall was an agreement between the codes not to take each others players in the early 70's, if you look through the French teams previous to this they contained many ex union players including internationals which helped the league team. I asked someone about this agreement and this is what he told me:

The agreement was called ‘The Protocol’ between the two (rival) French Federations - of Rugby and Jeu a X111.
It was introduced in 1972, agreed to to by the respective Presidents, Albert Ferrasse and Rene Mauries.
The basic agreement was that clubs from one Federation could not sign players from the rival Federation after they had reached adulthood, (I think this was the age of 20, ie. the age limit for ‘Juniors’) but if they were internationals at Junior level they were also subject to the ‘Protocol’ no signing agreement.
 
It was a deeply unpopular move among Rugby League people as they saw it as a Rugby Union ploy to stop League clubs recruiting Union players, which had been going on since Rugby League was first introduced to France – but, at the same time, Union clubs were very active in snapping up talented League Juniors as they came under the age barrier.  It was seen as Ferrasse strangling a big part of League’s player-supply and also one of its biggest sources of prestige and publicity – and it was done with the backing and approval of the Ministry of Sport.
 
Look back through the history of French R.L. and so many players came into the game from R.Union. ‘The Protocol’ stopped all that.
 
‘The Protocol’ was finally blown out of the water in 1980 when the League’s biggest star, Jean-Marc Bourret, was poached by Rugby Union.  They said it was in response to League signing a Union junior international (Serge Costals) so all ‘protocol’ was cancelled.  And, once again, the government’s Ministry of Sport allowed the Rugby Union to have its way. 

Can't find much info Jean-Marc Bourret apart from when in League he played against Leigh Miners Rangers in a European club game ?

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He was a league international, kicked a drop goal in the 2nd Test v Australia in Toulouse to clinch the series for the French.

I recall an article about 1980/81 in Rugby League week claiming Balmain were interested in him.

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