Talking Rugby League: Could France finally give England a good game?

IT WAS a remarkable fact for those of us who yearn for a strong French international team that Catalans Dragons defeated St Helens 14-8 on Saturday with a spine that was totally made up of French players after Jordan Abdull’s departure from the game after about ten minutes.

Arthur Mourgue at fullback, César Rougé and Théo Fages at halfback and Alrix da Costa at hooker did a great job for their coach Steve McNamara and of course they were led by their captain and loose-forward Benjamin Garcia.

The RFL has yet to confirm that England will be playing against France in Toulouse on the last Saturday of June, but those five players should at least give us some hope that the one-sided scorelines of recent years might be a thing of the past.

Of course we can’t guarantee that outcome and the problem for the French selector is twofold.

First of all, they need to have strong contenders for international selection in every position.

And secondly, they need all their potential international players to be made available.

On that basis, the Catalans’ team on Saturday had ten French players in their matchday 17, with a further three in their 21-man squad.

They urgently need to get more French players into their squad as much as possible.

Then of course we have players representing Toulouse, who regularly field a matchday squad with around eight or nine French players.

And we have a small number of French players at Super League clubs other than the Catalans.

They would include Justin Sangaré and Mickaël Goudemand at Leeds, Tiaki Chan at Wigan, Hugo Salabio at Huddersfield and Hakim Miloudi at London Broncos.

There isn’t a large number of players to pick from, but it does seem to be gradually growing and we must all hope that the French national team will enjoy the benefit of that growth, ideally from this season, if we can ever get that international match confirmed.