England’s Men and Women will return to action next April in a double header against France.
France are of course the hosts of the 2025 Rugby League World Cup which will give the French some much-needed game time against an international opponent.
Both England teams captured the imagination of record-breaking crowds and seven-figure TV audiences with their high-scoring progress through RLWC2021 before bitterly disappointing Semi Final defeats, and the RFL have arranged a break in the 2023 domestic programme for them to return to action to face France on Saturday 29 April.
Both matches will be staged at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium with England Women facing France at 2pm, followed by the Men’s match at 4.30pm.
Mark Foster, the RFL’s Chief Commercial Officer, said: “This autumn has been another reminder of the importance of our England teams in capturing the imagination of sports fans and TV viewers beyond our regular Rugby League audience.
“We wanted to ensure that our England teams would return to action in front of a home crowd as soon as possible in 2023 – and we are pleased to be able to arrange a double header against France, whose Men’s and Women’s teams will also be moving on from their World Cup campaigns and starting to focus on the exciting prospect of hosting the next tournament in 2025.
“This will be the third consecutive year that we have staged a double header of Women’s and Men’s internationals at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium, which was the venue for one of the most memorable occasions of the World Cup when the Samoa and Tonga Men’s teams contested a compelling Quarter Final.
“We are also delighted to partner with Rugby League Cares so that ticket buyers can have the opportunity to give back to the Rugby League community during difficult economic times and provide young, disadvantaged fans with the chance to watch their England heroes against France.”
Discussions are continuing with relevant bodies including European Rugby League regarding the 2023 international programme for England’s Wheelchair team – who will play France in the World Cup Final at Manchester Central on Friday night.
Luc Lacoste, the President of France’s Rugby League Federation, said: “The World Cup ends next Saturday in England, and we are delighted to announce this agreement with our English friends for the implementation of these two Test Matches, Men and Women, in April 2023.
“For several months now, we have been working hand in hand with the RFL to systematize international matches between our two nations every year. We also work for the categories France B, U17, U19 and the Para XIII Armchair France team. This first announcement therefore confirms the desire of our two Federations to make a common path until 2025.”
Paul Wood, the former Warrington and Great Britain prop who is now Health and Wellbeing Programme Manager for RL Cares, said: “It’s great to see the sport building on the success of the World Cup by hosting this England-France double-header at the Halliwell Jones.
“Just as it has underlined the importance of international competition, the World Cup has provided a showcase for all the brilliant work RL Cares does to support people of all ages in communities where Rugby League is played.
“The charity has touched the lives of thousands of young people in recent months by delivering the Movember Ahead of the Game programme. I’m sure the Rugby League family will get behind this fantastic offer and help us continue to enhance the lives of some of the sport’s most vulnerable people.”