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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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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.  

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