France national rugby league team

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Badge of France team
Nicknames Les Chanticleers
Les Tricolores
Governing body Fédération Française de Rugby à XIII
Region Europe
Head coach Richard Agar
Captain Olivier Elima
Most caps Puig Aubert (46)
Top try-scorer Raymond Contrastin (25)
Top point-scorer Puig Aubert (361)
RLIF ranking 4th
First international
 England 32–21 France 
(Paris, France; 15 April 1934)
Biggest win
 Serbia 0–120 France 
(Beirut, Lebanon; 22 October 2003)
Biggest defeat
 Australia 76–0 France 
(Limoux, France; 1999)
World Cup
Appearances 12 (first time in 1954)
Best result Runners-up, 1954; 1968

The France national rugby league team represent France in international rugby league tournaments. They are also sometimes referred to as "Les Tricolores" or more commonly "Les Chanticleers". The team is run under the auspices of the Fédération Française de Rugby à XIII and is largely made up of players from Super League and the Elite One Championship.

The French rugby league team first played in 1934 on a tour of England. They have taken part in all World Cups, twelve in total, with the first being held in 1954 in France. They have never won the title but have finished runners-up in both 1954 and 1968. These are often considered the glory years of French rugby league as from the 1950s to the 1970s the team were strong and regularly beat Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain. Since those days though, the Tricolores have not done so well, not managing to win a single match in the 1995 World Cup, but doing slightly better in the 2000 World Cup comfortably beating Tonga and South Africa, before losing to eventual finalists New Zealand.

In 2006, the Perpignan based team Catalans Dragons entered Super League Europe, and have since produced a number of top-class French players. Despite improved professionalism France finished 10th in the 2008 World Cup in Australia. The team will play in the 2013 World Cup.

Currently the team is ranked fifth in the world. In Europe alone they are ranked second, ahead of Ireland, Scotland and Lebanon, but behind their main rival England.



On New Year's Eve 1933, England and Australia played in Paris – the first game of rugby league football in France. The match was one-sided, with Australia winning 63-13 in front of a crowd of about 5,000, but the seed was sown. French rugby union players, disgruntled that France had been suspended from the Five Nations Championship, formed the 'Ligue Francaise de Rugby a XIII' on 6 April 1934. Jean Galia, a former rugby union international and champion boxer, lead France on a six-match tour of England in 1934 and they recorded their first win in Kingston upon Hull. The national team's first game was in Paris on 15 April 1934, losing 21-32 to England in front of a crowd of 20,000. By 1939 the French league had 155 clubs and the national side beat England and Wales to take the European championship.


The game of rugby league suffered in France during the Second World War, as administrators within French rugby union worked with the collaborating Vichy regime to have rugby league banned. Some players and officials of the sport were punished (not reinstated in the French rugby union), whilst some of the assets of the rugby league and its clubs were handed over to the union. After the war the French game was re-established and the French became one of rugby league's major powers, competing in the Rugby League World Cup and major international series against Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand. In 1946 they became the first French sporting team to win at Wembley Stadium.


In November 1951, France met "Other Nationalities" in an International Championship match at the Boulevard, Hull which became known as the "Battle of the Boulevard". Other Nationalities won 17-14 but the match centred on the behaviour of Edouard Ponsinet, who was involved in most of the violence that happened at the game. The Other Nationalities were down to eleven players at one stage, with Arthur Clues being the most serious casualty, hospitalised with head injuries. Eventually Ponsinet was sent off, ten minutes from time after breaking the nose of Jeff Burke. Despite this defeat France went on to retain the title with home victories over England and Wales.

1951 team

In 1951 France embarked on their first ever tour of Australasia, coached by Bob Samatan and led by the legendary chain-smoking fullback, Puig Aubert. Their flamboyant style of unorthodox attacking rugby attracted huge crowds. When the two nations met for the first Test the previous month, the match became the first "all ticket" international to be staged at the Sydney Cricket Ground, and attracted a crowd of over 60,000. On Saturday 30 June 1951, Australia secured a hard-fought Second Test victory over France in Brisbane by 23 points to 11. The third Test took place at Sydney Cricket Ground three weeks later. Late tries from Duncan Hall and Brian Davies could not prevent the Kangaroos from suffering an embarrassing 35-14 defeat. France played 28 matches during the three-month tour, winning 21 matches, drawing twice and losing just five times.

In the 1954 World Cup, which was the first of either rugby code and was instigated by France, the Tricolours defeated both Australia and New Zealand, and Drew with Great Britain to reach the final. This was the closest they went to getting their hands on the World Cup, going down narrowly, 16-12, to Great Britain in the final in Parc des Princes, Paris. France donated the original World Cup trophy, but they have never won it.

France repeated the success of their 1951 tour in 1955. The 1951 and 1955 French sides that toured Australia are still regarded as two of the strongest sides ever to tour that country.

In the 1957 World Cup which was held in Australia no final was played, with the winner decided on a table standing, and France finished last, winning one match against New Zealand. History was made when the returning French and British squads visited South Africa and played a series of exhibition matches in Benoni, Durban and East London, all of which were won by the British.


In the 1960 Rugby League World Cup France failed to win a match, and finished last for the second consecutive time.

On Sunday 8 December 1963, France defeated the Australians in the first Test of a three Test series during the Kangaroo tour of Europe. The match was held in Bordeaux.

The French managed to reach the final of the 1968 Rugby League World Cup, the last time they have achieved that feat. They beat both Great Britain and New Zealand to qualify, but lost to Australia in Sydney, and so finished runners-up again.


France managed one victory in the 1970 Rugby League World Cup, a narrow win over Australia, who went on to win the Cup in the final. In 1972 France hosted the sixth World Cup and again only got the one win, in the opening match against New Zealand. The trend of underperforming in the World Cup continued for the French in the expanded 1975 tournament in which they got a lone win over Wales and a draw against New Zealand. Two years later in the 1977 World Cup they didn't win a match at all. But then on the 1978 Kangaroo tour's French leg, they beat the Kangaroos 13-10 and 11-10, which remained Australia's last failed attempt to win an international series or competition until 2005. But for many it is this victory that signalled the end of French international competitiveness.


Rugby league in France went through a riotous period at the beginning of the 1980s.[1] From 1985 to 1987 the team were beaten by New Zealand in Perpignan, drew with Great Britain in Avignon and were thrashed 52-0 in Carcassonne against Australia. Away from home they suffered a large defeat against Great Britain in Leeds. The team recorded their only win of the World Cup beating Papua New Guinea in front of 3,500 people in Carcassonne.


In 1990 a Great Britain team including Shaun Edwards, Garry Schofield, Martin Offiah and Denis Betts were embarrassed by a 25-18 loss, which was France's first victory on English soil for 23 years. The team then met Papua New Guinea on Sunday 30 June 1991 in Rabaul, where they were beaten 28-24. On Sunday 7 July 1991, the two sides met again for a World Cup encounter at Danny Leahy Oval, Goroka. The heat and humidity caused France all kinds of problems, but the Tricolores squeezed home 20-18.

On Sunday 27 October 1991, the first ever Test match involving the Soviet Union took place at the Stade Georges Lyvet, Villeurbanne, near Lyon, France. The Bears were beaten 26-6 by France. The Papua New Guinea national team wound up their 1991 tour of Europe with a World Cup rated Test match against France, which was played on Sunday 24 November at the Stade Albert Domec, Carcassonne. France defeated their visitors 28-14. In the 1995 World Cup France had to play the Samoans three days after taking a physical pounding from the Welsh in Cardiff.

John Kear was briefly in charge of Les Tricolours in 1997.

France took on Italy at the Parc des Sports, Avignon in November 1999. France needed a draw to win the Mediterranean Cup. The Italians, registered a memorable 14-10 victory, which handed the cup to the Lebanon.


France travelled to Pretoria for a match against South Africa on Saturday 3 November 2001. The French were too good for a young and inexperienced South African side. They scored four tries in each half, and won 44-6 after leading 24-0 at half-time.

In 2002, France lost to Lebanon 36–6 in front of 9,713 spectators at Tripoli in the Mediterranean Cup final.[2]

In 2004 the French returned to form with a narrow 20-24 defeat of New Zealand and a losing but creditable performance against Australia. However, the game was played under modified rules and was not at the time considered an official test match. Shortly afterwards the game was retrospectively awarded test status. In 2005, the Tricolores played Australia again in Perpignan. They suffered a 44-12 defeat. Unlike their last match against Australia, this game was played under normal rules and is considered a regular test match. This was their best performance in an official test match against Australia since 1990.

The French team lining up before their match against New Zealand in the 2009 Four Nations tournament.

In the Winter of 2007, Papua New Guinea toured France, and in both matches that the two nations played, France won. After those two games a match in Paris was scheduled against New Zealand, on their way back from a 3-0 test defeat against Great Britain. A last minute try secured a 22-14 New Zealand win in front of a decent crowd despite Paris rail strikes. France participated in the 2008 World Cup after being granted automatic qualification. They were drawn in Group B with Scotland and Fiji. Winning only one game and losing two, France finished the tournament in last place.

France participated in the first 2009 Four Nations tournament against England, New Zealand and Australia. The following year, the tournament was held in Australia and New Zealand, with France's place being taken by a pacific qualifier.


With the Four Nations returning to Europe in 2011, France needed to qualify by winning the 2010 European Cup, but failed to do so, with Wales qualifying instead. In 2011 the English team, rather than playing their annual test against France, instead arranged the inaugural 2011 International Origin match.

France participated in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and hosted some games. They reached the quarter-finals where they were knocked out by England.

National coaches[edit]

Tournament history[edit]

A red box around the year indicates tournaments played within France

World Cup[edit]

World Cup record
Year Round Position GP W L D
France 1954 Second place 2/4 4 2 1 1
Australia 1957 Fourth place 4/4 3 1 2 0
United Kingdom 1960 Fourth place 4/4 3 0 3 0
Australia/New Zealand 1968 Second place 2/4 4 2 2 0
United Kingdom 1970 Third place 3/4 3 1 2 0
France 1972 Third place 3/4 3 1 2 0
AustraliaFranceNew ZealandEnglandWales 1975 Fifth place 5/5 8 1 6 1
Australia/New Zealand 1977 Fourth place 4/4 3 0 3 0
AustraliaFranceNew ZealandPapua New GuineaUnited Kingdom
Fifth place 5/5 5 1 3 1
AustraliaFranceNew ZealandPapua New GuineaUnited Kingdom
Fourth place 4/5 8 2 6 0
United Kingdom 1995 Group stage 9/10 2 0 2 0
France/United Kingdom 2000 Quarter-finals 5/16 4 2 2 0
Australia 2008 Group stage 10/10 2 1 1 0
EnglandFranceIrelandWales 2013 Quarter-finals 6/14 4 1 3 0
Australia/New Zealand 2017 To Be Determined
Total 0 Titles 13/13 56 15 38 3

Four Nations[edit]

Four Nations record
Year Round Position GP W L D
England/France 2009 Fourth place 4/4 3 0 3 0
Australia/New Zealand 2010 Not Invited
England/Wales 2011 Did not qualify
Australia/New Zealand 2014 Not Invited
England/Scotland 2016 Did not qualify
Total 0 Titles 1/3 3 0 3 0

2014 Squad[edit]

The French national team squad selected for the 2014 European Cup tournament (appearances, and points, apply for after the tournament finished):

Other Nat. Pos. Player Age Caps Pts Club
France Fullback Tony Maurel 21 1 4 ToulouseRLcolours.PNG Toulouse Olympique
Italy Wing Mathias Pala (1989-06-14) 14 June 1989 (age 25) 7 12 Catalanscolours.svg Catalans Dragons
France Wing Frédéric Vaccari (1987-11-07) 7 November 1987 (age 27) 13 8 France colours.svg Palau Broncos
France Wing Clément Soubeyras ? 5 4 CarcassonneRLcolours.PNG AS Carcassonne
France Centre Damien Cardace (1992-10-16) 16 October 1992 (age 22) 6 0 Catalanscolours.svg Catalans Dragons
France Centre Jean-Philippe Baile (1987-06-07) 7 June 1987 (age 27) 18 16 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
France Centre Aurélien Decarnin ? 2 4 France colours.svg Villeneuve Leopards
France Centre Benjamin Julien ? 0 0 France colours.svg SO Avignon
France Stand-off Théo Fages (1994-08-23) 23 August 1994 (age 20) 5 4 Redscolours.svg Salford Red Devils
France Stand-off Anthony Carrere ? 0 0 France colours.svg FC Lézignan
France Halfback William Barthau (1990-01-30) 30 January 1990 (age 25) 9 1 Broncoscolours.png London Broncos
France Halfback Rémy Marginet ? 3 48 Fevcolours.svg Featherstone Rovers
Australia Prop Aaron Wood 30 3 0 ToulouseRLcolours.PNG Toulouse Olympique
France Prop Julian Bousquet (1991-06-08) 8 June 1991 (age 23) 4 0 Catalanscolours.svg Catalans Dragons
Morocco Prop Jamal Fakir (1982-08-30) 30 August 1982 (age 32) 30 16 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
France Prop Mickaël Simon (1987-04-02) 2 April 1987 (age 28) 12 4 Wcatscolours.svg Wakefield Wildcats
France Hooker Éloi Pélissier (1991-06-18) 18 June 1991 (age 23) 12 8 Catalanscolours.svg Catalans Dragons
Morocco Hooker John Boudebza 24 1 0 HKRcolours.svg Hull Kingston Rovers
France Second-row Kevin Larroyer (1989-06-19) 19 June 1989 (age 25) 9 4 HKRcolours.svg Hull Kingston Rovers
France Second-row Benjamin Garcia (1993-04-15) 15 April 1993 (age 22) 6 0 Catalanscolours.svg Catalans Dragons
France Second-row Antoni Maria (1987-03-21) 21 March 1987 (age 28) 6 0 Catalanscolours.svg Catalans Dragons
France Lock Jason Baitieri (Captain) (1989-07-02) 2 July 1989 (age 25) 12 8 Catalanscolours.svg Catalans Dragons
France Lock Thibaut Margalet ? 0 0 France colours.svg AS Saint Estève



Opponent Played Won Drawn Lost % Won Year/s
Total 336 121 15 200 36% 1934-
 Australia 62 12 2 35 20% 1938-2009
United Kingdom British Empire XIII 2 1 0 1 50% 1937-1949
 England 44 7 2 35 16% 1935-2013
England English League 5 1 0 4 20% 1934-1958
 Fiji 1 0 0 1 0% 2008
 Georgia 1 1 0 0 100% 2005
 Great Britain 70 16 4 50 23% 1954-2007
 Ireland 7 5 1 1 71% 1997-2014
 Italy 1 0 0 1 0% 1999
 Lebanon 4 1 0 3 25% 1999-2004
 Morocco 3 3 0 0 100% 1999-2004
 New Zealand 54 14 5 35 26% 1947-2013
 Other Nationalities 7 3 0 4 43% 1950-1955
 Papua New Guinea 14 9 1 4 64% 1947-2013
 Russia 2 2 0 0 100% 2004-2005
 Samoa 3 0 0 3 0% 1995-2013
 Scotland 9 7 0 2 78% 1997-2014
 Serbia 2 2 0 0 100% 2003-2004
 South Africa 2 2 0 0 100% 1997-2000
 Tonga 1 1 0 0 100% 2000
 United States 1 1 0 0 100% 1954
 Wales 41 24 0 17 56% 1935-2014


Official Rankings as of December 2014[3]
Rank Change Team Points
1 Steady  Australia 984.00
2  New Zealand 884.00
3  England 485.00
4 Increase  Samoa 316.00
5 Decrease  France 215.00
6  Fiji 184.00
7 Increase  Ireland 154.00
8  Scotland 123.00
9 Decrease  Wales 122.00
10  United States 119.00
11  Papua New Guinea 112.00
12 Steady  Italy 79.00
13 Increase  Serbia 49.00
14  Canada 49.00
15 Decrease  Russia 45.00
16  Tonga 32.00
17  Cook Islands 31.00
18 Steady  Germany 27.00
19  Norway 22.00
20  Ukraine 21.00
21  Lebanon 19.00
22  Belgium 19.00
23 Increase  Greece 19.00
24 Decrease  Malta 18.00
25 Steady  Netherlands 14.00
26 Increase  Denmark 13.00
27 Decrease  Jamaica 11.00
28 Steady  Spain 9.00
29 Increase  Czech Republic 7.00
30  Sweden 7.00
31 Decrease  South Africa 4.00
32 Increase  Hungary 2.00
33 Decrease  Latvia 0.00
34 Steady  Morocco 0.00

Notable players[edit]

Match Officials[edit]


Touch Judge

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Heads, Ian (24 May 1981). "French tour could be a riot!". The Sun-Herald (Australia). p. 86. Retrieved 6 February 2011. 
  2. ^ Mascord, Steve (4 November 2002). "El Magic helps spread word to the Middle East". The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia: Fairfax). Retrieved 20 February 2011. 
  3. ^ [1]; RLIF Rankings

External links[edit]