Dominque Baloup elected new president of French Rugby League Federation

Dominique Baloup, who played for France against the 1982 touring Kangaroos, has been elected as the new president of the French Rugby League Federation with an 85% majority. He takes over from Luc Lacoste who had to stand down because of illness.

Baloup, who will meet RFL CEO Tony Sutton and ERL chair Dean Andrew in Perpignan this weekend ahead of the Catalan Dragons Super League fixture with Leeds Rhinos, began playing the sport in 1972, aged 15.

“I never stopped playing, coaching and managing until 1995,” he said. “I have watched continually and in 2020, when Luc me to work with him on a project for French rugby league, I immediately agreed to give back to this noble sport everything it had given me.

“I had been a member of the Federation’s steering committee with president Jean Paul Verdaguer in the 1980s when I was playing for the French team, and I am part of it again almost 40 years later, with a different vision of course, but with my passion intact!”

His first club was La Réole and the side memorably made it to a semi-final against Villeneuve XIII.

“I know what it takes to grow the sport,” he acknowledged. “I also know that a lot of things are missing today in rugby league to achieve this. The work that my friend Bernard Guasch did in Perpignan for XIII Catalan to become Catalan Dragons is simply incredible in terms of intelligence, dedication and ambition. Bernard is an example for me even if not everything is transposable.”

Among Baloup’s short term aims are to raise the profile of the sport through a structured international competition that will interest the media and commercial partners. “I have many priorities, but that is foremost,” he commented. “The second is to work hard to professionalise a domestic championship, and to continue to develop and increase the number of licence-holders by working hard in primary and secondary schools. We must ensure that all French leaguers believe in the same future for their sport.”

He added: “My mission is to maintain French rugby league in the category of sports recognized by the French government as high-level sport so that it can continue to benefit from aid and support, also involving the training of coaches and educators as well as young players alongside the stars, and the further development of all clubs.

“I’d like to thank all the clubs who voted by a very large majority for me to take over responsibility for French rugby league. I appreciate the importance of this vote of confidence and the hope it inspires, which was expressed to me by a large number before and after the election, I will do my utmost not to disappoint them.

“I love this sport and I also know that France must play a role in the development of an enlarged Europe, and that this activity will also help French XIII rugby to grow.”

Frédéric Baldy, Jeanne Bernard and Michel Clauzier were elected to the steering committee.