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England and France mid-season Test in 2019 is a possibility, admit Wayne Bennett and Aurelien Cologni

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England coach Wayne Bennett said playing France in a mid-season Test in 2019 could well be an option.

The mid-season Test between England and New Zealand in Denver will not go ahead next year after the Rugby Football League and New Zealand Rugby League failed to receive the full amount of money they initially agreed with the event promoter Moore Sports International.

And the Kiwis have pencilled in a Test with Tonga in the mid-season break in 2019, leaving England with little options.

Speaking after England’s 44-6 win over France at Leigh on Wednesday, Bennett revealed that England could end up playing Les Chanticleers next year.

“It could be an option, of course,” he admitted.

“France will be keen to show how serious they are about international football as well but you can’t not have your best players available. Fair enough if they have got injuries and stuff but some just not playing is not going to help the game in France.

“We scored an early try and that was the type of game we needed. I don’t know any of the French players, I don’t know what their backgrounds are and I don’t know how many play in Super League but I just thought they were better in the second half after they got blown off the park in the first half.

“I’m pleased we gave them an opportunity to represent their country and if we don’t continue to do things like that then we will only have three or four nations playing international football so it is all part of the journey.”

France will now compete in the 2018 European Championship, which doubles up as a qualifier for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup. They face Wales, Ireland and Scotland this autumn.

And France coach Aurelien Cologni admitted that although they may not face England next year, they need to be playing tier-one nations to get better.

He said: “I would like to speak to the French federation about a game in June and to have less games at the end of the season.

“Every player wants to play for their country but it is difficult when you have a long season, playing in the Championship and Cup and then a minimum of four games with the national team.

“Maybe the seasons are too long for players at the minute. The seasons are tough and their bodies finish with a lot of aches and they are mentally tired so I think it is important not to push the players.

“I think June is a good window to play one game like England do but we have to have the best opposition for us.”

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Playing France is fine with me provided it's on a Saturday or Sunday, on the BBC, and played somewhere major the non-RL public has heard of (no offence to places like Leigh or Doncaster) such as France, London, Newcastle, Manchester or Leeds. Maybe even give it to one of the more promising 2021 RLWC host applicant cities as a pathfinder for them.

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16 minutes ago, Whippet13 said:

Playing France is fine with me provided it's on a Saturday or Sunday, on the BBC, and played somewhere major the non-RL public has heard of (no offence to places like Leigh or Doncaster) such as France, London, Newcastle, Manchester or Leeds. Maybe even give it to one of the more promising 2021 RLWC host applicant cities as a pathfinder for them.

I agree with this. In France would be first preference, if it has to be in England look outside the obvious (underwhelming) places, go for a London, Bristol or Newcastle game.

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3 hours ago, DoubleD said:

“France will be keen to show how serious they are about international football as well but you can’t not have your best players available. Fair enough if they have got injuries and stuff but some just not playing is not going to help the game in France.

So some French players didn't play because they didn't feel like it?

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1 hour ago, B rad said:

So some French players didn't play because they didn't feel like it?

If true it's worrying.

It is a bit rich Bennett saying that though after he told Sam Burgess to sit the autumn out.

Edited by jim_57

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38 minutes ago, B rad said:

So some French players didn't play because they didn't feel like it?

dont think so. Remi Casty and one or two others have retired from internationals, a couple players were injured, Navarette & Escare were unavailable as they played in the super league grand final a couple of days earlier.

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5 hours ago, DoubleD said:

And the Kiwis have pencilled in a Test with Tonga in the mid-season break in 2019, leaving England with little options.

Speaking after England’s 44-6 win over France at Leigh on Wednesday, Bennett revealed that England could end up playing Les Chanticleers next year.

“It could be an option, of course,” he admitted.

“France will be keen to show how serious they are about international football as well but you can’t not have your best players available. Fair enough if they have got injuries and stuff but some just not playing is not going to help the game in France.

I read it differently. The mid season test with NZ is not happening and France is an option instead. However, will the NRL clubs been keen to let England players fly to a distant location to play them? He feels putting a lesser England team up against France wasn't helping the French side as they want to test themselves against the best. I think from what WB said about the French team , he doesn't know anything, even if players were absent.

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37 minutes ago, B rad said:

He was selected, then Bennett suggested he sit it out, then suddenly he is injured & requires surgery. He didn't suddenly throw his shoulder out in the last game, the surgery would have been for niggles that had persisted throughout the NRL season.

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32 minutes ago, RayCee said:

I read it differently. The mid season test with NZ is not happening and France is an option instead. However, will the NRL clubs been keen to let England players fly to a distant location to play them? He feels putting a lesser England team up against France wasn't helping the French side as they want to test themselves against the best. I think from what WB said about the French team , he doesn't know anything, even if players were absent.

Isn't that also a bit strange that his knowledge of Super League is that poor he doesn't know any of the Catalans players?

I'm not normally one to knock Bennett but admitting that in an interview is a bit weird and opens up a lot of questions about how he gets his info about Super League players he selects.

Edited by jim_57
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44 minutes ago, jim_57 said:

He was selected, then Bennett suggested he sit it out, then suddenly he is injured & requires surgery. He didn't suddenly throw his shoulder out in the last game, the surgery would have been for niggles that had persisted throughout the NRL season.

Player management. No issue here at all.

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What an utterly pointless exercise a mid-season International with France would be. But at least it fits with the Back to the Future theme in Rugby League with the return of automatic relegation, loop fixtures and now this. 

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1 hour ago, Oliver Clothesoff said:

What an utterly pointless exercise a mid-season International with France would be. But at least it fits with the Back to the Future theme in Rugby League with the return of automatic relegation, loop fixtures and now this. 

Some of the arrogance from English fans astounds me. If England are as high above playing "the likes" of France as you think they are they could always go play with.. I mean against themselves.

While we're at it Australia can send the PMXIII out against England because obviously playing them the last 30 years has been an utterly pointless excersize.

Edited by jim_57
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I'm happy enough with a game mid season against them, especially if it's in France because most of their players would be just down the road. Christ even play it in Perpignan then you're basically saying to the Catalans players, no excuse, come play at the place you always do. Personally I think toulouse would be a good place though, bigger place, more famous place, easier to get to, bigger ground and an expansion area. 

Couple of problems arise of course. Doubtful many of the NRL based England lads would be allowed to play (I think that's one reason we flew down there two years ago) and I can't see Catalans being happy with half their team playing in an extra game. I suppose different clubs have different policies and I wouldn't know whether Catalans leave the decision to the players themselves or not, clubs certainly don't in the NRL as we have seen. 

But a full strength French side could give England a good game, especially if England's NRL boys were missing, maybe give a chance for a few up and comers to have a go. Get it on BBC, get a decent crowd in (which the French always seem to do against us) and it will be a competitive, entertaining game. 

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I don't blame any French player for choosing not to be a tackle bag for an England training session on a Wednesday night in Leigh.

Treat France with respect, give them a proper game in a ground worthy of test Rugby League and if the players still don't show up then they can be criticized.

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58 minutes ago, jim_57 said:

Some of the arrogance from English fans astounds me. If England are as high above playing "the likes" of France as you think they are they could always go play with.. I mean against themselves.

While we're at it Australia can send the PMXIII out against England because obviously playing them the last 30 years has been an utterly pointless excersize.

The same people will whine about the Aussies not treating England/international RL with respect without a shred of irony.

There is no solidarity or vision in international RL. Everyone just ####### on the team below them.

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I see the main problem in international RL as the lack of consistency. What I mean is, without a regular calender players might not feel that enthused to play in one off tests or test series, that in the end don't count towards much. Players are playing for the world Cup and nothing else and that is only every four years (at the moment at least).

We had something good developing with the Four nations, we were getting average crowds higher than the world Cup and had a structured system of qualification. Players will have felt more enthused to play in the euros and Pacific Cup because winning it meant you played in the Four nations against the top teams, there was a proper prize. So what did we do? Scrap it and allow the euros and Pacific Cup to become some sporadic comps that are played when they feel like it. 

 

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France are at something of a crossroads for International RL.

They can either start taking it seriously, putting out full squads against England and actually competing. Or they can settle for being in the mix with Ireland and Wales. They really need to pick their path.

IF they are willing to be taken seriously, then fair enough - a mid-season test in France next year. Put it in a ground that holds 15-20K and publicise the hell out of it, build up the rivalry, put out a full strength squad and - wonders never cease - actually try and compete properly with England. Then we're getting somewhere....

And, heaven knows, we need that to happen. Because it doesn't seem like we are going to be playing the Southern hemisphere teams much over the next few years at home, and there's nobody else for us to play other than the French.

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1 hour ago, damp squib said:

I don't blame any French player for choosing not to be a tackle bag for an England training session on a Wednesday night in Leigh.

Treat France with respect, give them a proper game in a ground worthy of test Rugby League and if the players still don't show up then they can be criticized.

Yes. If indeed any French players did drop out because they didn't fancy it, part of me wises they had come out publicly and said it - explaining exactly why. The fixture was an insult.

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If we can't get our NRL players up here for a game then it's not the end of the world, we can still put out a good side, what's important is treating the game with respect. Get it on the telly, get it a big ground on a weekend and build it up to be something. And do it every year.

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England could play the winner of the Euro Championship from the previous Autumn. Gives France, Wales, Ireland and Scotland more reason to take the Euro Champs more seriously in non-wcq years. 

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4 hours ago, damp squib said:

I don't blame any French player for choosing not to be a tackle bag for an England training session on a Wednesday night in Leigh.

Treat France with respect, give them a proper game in a ground worthy of test Rugby League and if the players still don't show up then they can be criticized.

The issue might be pride.  The obvious team, imo, is the England Knights but the French might not fancy that as its not classed as a 1st team.  They would get more out of that than the England 1st team 1st half drubbing at Leigh. We could have played at Wembley and it would have still been the same.

I agree with Cologni in that the players play too many games.  Less League games, more internationals.

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4 minutes ago, Lowdesert said:

The issue might be pride.  The obvious team, imo, is the England Knights but the French might not fancy that as its not classed as a 1st team.  They would get more out of that than the England 1st team 1st half drubbing at Leigh. We could have played at Wembley and it would have still been the same.

I agree with Cologni in that the players play too many games.  Less League games, more internationals.

There is a clear pattern of France performing to a much higher level against England in games that are meaningful i.e. World Cup games, home internationals etc.

England Knights is a big no no if you want them to be taken seriously. Mid-season without NRL players is fine, but it should be considered a full England test.

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5 hours ago, jim_57 said:

Some of the arrogance from English fans astounds me. If England are as high above playing "the likes" of France as you think they are they could always go play with.. I mean against themselves.

While we're at it Australia can send the PMXIII out against England because obviously playing them the last 30 years has been an utterly pointless excersize.

You’re right. But nowhere did I mention we should be playing Australia 

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