By RFL Chief Executive Ralph Rimmer
Congratulations are due to a good number of people for putting on an enjoyable international Rugby League event in Perpignan in challenging circumstances.
Thanks to Luc Lacoste and his team at the French Federation, and to Bernard Guasch and the Catalans Dragons – it was important to French Rugby League for their national teams to return to action after a long break, especially as they work towards a bid to stage the Rugby League World Cup in 2025.
Catalans and Toulouse Olympique players dominated the French teams for the internationals, especially the men’s match, which reflects the progress they are making in the crucial area of developing French players.
I’d also like to recognise the efforts and sacrifices made by our England players and staff over recent days, weeks and months. Only those involved are aware of the additional complexity of assembling representative squads given ongoing Covid regulations, and it has been heartening to see the commitment and pride of all involved – as we work towards making the most of the opportunities of the three home World Cups next autumn.
It was wonderful to see Emily Rudge score two more tries on her record-breaking 24th England appearance, and also to hear the justifiable pride in John Bateman’s post-match comments as he reflected on his journey to the England captaincy.
Despite the difficult circumstances, we have secured two fixtures each for our Men’s and Women’s teams in 2021 – with unprecedented broadcast exposure for the Women’s team on Sky Sports in the summer and BBC2 this weekend. We also thank our broadcast partners and other media for their support of the international game.
It was also important for Paul Anderson’s England Knights to get together again this autumn, and they showed exciting potential in their game against Jamaica, as well as spending valuable time in an international camp – with a couple of them moving up to Shaun Wane’s senior squad for the France game.
We still have two Wheelchair internationals to look forward to against France in Medway in November, following on from the breakthrough fixture for our England team against Wales in the summer – and again, providing important match preparation for both nations looking ahead to the World Cup next year
This was always going to be a weekend of mixed feelings, as we reflect again on the postponement of the World Cup, which should have kicked off in Newcastle on Saturday.
That was why it was so important to play some international Rugby League this autumn – roll on 2022!