The beautiful autumn of French rugby union

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP)

The performances of the Catalan Dragons and the Toulouse Olympique, who will develop together next year in the English elite, shed light on the French rugby union, which the federation wants to take advantage of, as a candidate to organize the 2025 World Cup.

Body and mind still sport the intense fight they just lost on Saturday against St Helens (12-10) in the Premier League final, and Dragon captain Benjamin Garcia is still finding the distance to assess the scope of his team’s historic journey.

“Many people, who didn’t necessarily know rugby union, were interested in our sport. We have to ride that wave,” he analyzed hot in the bowels of Old Trafford, the majestic stage of the England Championship final, which “Drak” “was the first foreign formation to arrive.”

Broadcast live on beIN Sports and Catalan TV, the match made headlines in some editions of the daily L’Equipe on Saturday. Rare media exposure to rugby union, a niche sport in France, nearly disappeared after the Vichy regime banned it in 1941.

Catalan Dragons captain Benjamin Garcia faced off against two Saint Helen players in the Super League final on October 9, 2021 in Manchester Paul Ellis, AFP

As Toulouse Olympique (TO), winner of Featherstone (34-12) on Sunday in the English second division final, will join the Catalans in the prestigious Premier League next year, Benjamin Garcia hopes the current enthusiasm for discipline is “no flash in the pan”.

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– ‘Ultra telegenic’ –

Luc Lacoste, president of the French Rugby League in the thirteenth session, sees the successes of the Dragon and TO “just a first step”.

“This sport is a very amorphous game,” he told AFP. “It hasn’t been announced yet while it’s very modern in its style of operation and gameplay. I think the media will realize that.”

The Super League final between the Dragons and the Saints, on October 9, 2021 in Manchester, resulted in a match of great intensity.
The Super League final between the Dragons and the Saints, on October 9, 2021 in Manchester, resulted in a match of great intensity. Paul Ellis, AFP

The leader is highly dependent on the organization of the 2025 World Cup, which is supposed to be officially awarded in the coming weeks by international bodies.

According to him, the French candidacy arouses the enthusiasm of the English-speaking countries, eager for the emergence of new representatives: “Everyone is counting on the return of France at the gala of the Great Nations.”

In order to achieve this, Luc Lacoste, who was elected in December 2020 at the head of the federation, has several projects in front of him: to increase the professionalism of the French championship in particular and to develop a discipline outside his traditional stronghold in Occitanie.

“It didn’t happen overnight, but we are progressing,” he says. “We have two great teams (Dragons and TO), but we must not forget that the French Elite 1 has also become a great and beautiful tournament.”

The disappointment of the Catalan players after losing in the Premier League final against St Helen on October 9, 2021 at Old Trafford
The disappointment of the Catalan players after losing in the Premier League final against St Helen on October 9, 2021 at Old Trafford Paul Ellis, AFP

The beautiful autumn of the French rugby union is not over yet: a double “crisis” (men and women) between France and England will take place on October 23 at the Gilbert Brutus Stadium in Perpignan, the Dragon’s resting place.

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