As part of the 28th annual France-Africa Summit in October 2021, Cameroon men’s and women’s rugby league teams will travel to Montpellier with a key theme of the congress being sporting diplomacy – together with the university sector and ecology.
The summit, will be held in the city between 7-9 October and to conclude proceedings, the Cameroon men will face Montpellier Sharks XIII – who have recently appointed former Great Britain international Leon Pryce as their director of rugby – whilst the women will play Déesses Catalanes women.
The matches will cement a recent relationship signed between the Sharks and CRLXIII to help further rugby league in the African country. The collaboration will include player and study exchanges, sharing of best practice particularly on coaching and player development, and return fixtures in Cameroon in August 2022.
Montpellier Mediterranean Metropole has launched a special programme this year in conjunction with the summit which is highlighting local events in the fields of art, culture, citizenship and sport and the Sharks have pledged to honour that goal by supporting rugby league internationally through the partnership.
Julien Lasserre, president of Montpellier Sharks XIII, commented: “Our association with Cameroon Rugby League extends beyond the Africa–France summit. We will also be partners for their planned 2025 Rugby League World Cup qualifiers and during their participation in the MEA Cup in 2022 and ’24. We are determined to promote the relations of friendship between France and Cameroon, culture and La Francophonie through rugby league.”
He added: “In France, sport is an identity and a culture, it has played – and continues to play – an important role in the formation of the French national persona and strengthens its relationship with Africans in general and Francophones in particular. Our objectives are to promote and celebrate the cooperation and friendship between our two countries. This allows us to take a fresh look at Africa–France relations and takes rugby league into another level of engagement – it is an historic commitment for the Sharks.
“African rugby league is booming and we stand alongside Cameroon Rugby League XIII to be able to carry out great projects in favour of its sporting development as a vector of social inclusion especially among young people, and to be able to give opportunities and identify players to come to Montpellier for a parallel sport-study programme around rugby league.”
General manager of Cameroon RL XIII Carol Manga said: “The partnership with Sharks Montpellier XIII is diplomacy par excellence in sport. Relations between France and Cameroon are old and dense. Our civil cooperation is important and multifaceted, rugby league being our platform. We want to promote and enhance our cultural exchanges, celebrate the French language and bring sports diplomacy to life across France-Africa because sport conveys equality and fraternity which are the fundamental values of rugby league.”