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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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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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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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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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