An old rivalry dating back to 1934 will be reignited this weekend in the Northern England Rugby League stronghold of Leigh when England play host to France in a one off rugby league test.
It has been a long time between drinks since France defeated England / Great Britain in a rugby league test match. You have to go back 25 years to 1990 when France broke a 23 year drought against the old dart and upset Great Britain 25 – 18 at Headingly.
Fast forward to 2015 and the odds against France will be about as bad as they were back in 1990. Odds on or not the 2015 version of the Les Tricolores will have a few things in their favour going into Saturday’s Test against England.
The Les Tricolores are on a winning streak. They ran over Wales and Scotland (2014 European Cup Winners) in last year’s European Championship. Last week France put in an awesome display in their opening game of the 2015 European Cup defeating Ireland 31 – 14. In rugby league momentum can be a wonderful thing. France have always been inconsistent but with three wins on the trot maybe times are changing.
England haven’t played a test match since last year’s 4 Nations. So when France tackle England this weekend they will be more settled having a hit out under their belt. Hopefully the run will also provide France with a “match fitness” edge. With fully professional player depth an issue the Les Tricolores will have to field a few players from the French Elite competition which England are sure to test.
Last but not least French players and Coach Richard Agar will go into this match thinking they can win and hoping to get the 25 year old monkey of their backs. Steve McNamara’s men on the other hand may deny it but will be using the French Test as a warm-up for the three game Test Series against New Zealand which kicks-off the following weekend. This could mean Engalnd may mentally be a little off for this match.
With the Catalans Dragons in the Super League and Dragons players also making up most of the national team France will give themselves every chance to pants England in Leigh this weekend. If France do win you will see French rugby league fans dancing in the streets from Perpignan to Toulouse.
Now we just need the fans to pack the stadium at Leigh to provide the Test Match atmosphere the French / England games hosted by England have lacked in recent times.
Recent encounters between England and France
2013 Nov 16th England 34 v France 6 (World Cup QF 3)
2012 Nov 11th England 48 – France 4 (Autumn International Series Final)
2012 Nov 3rd England 44 – France 6 (Autumn International Series)
2011 Oct 21st France 18 – England 32 (Test Match)
2010 Jun 12th England 60 – France 6 (Test Match)