Ray French

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For the baseball player, see Ray French (baseball). For the American printmaker and artist, see Ray H. French.

Raymond James French MBE (born 1939) [1] is a former rugby union and rugby league dual-code international player who achieved the rare honour of representing his country (England) at international level in both codes of the game. French won his four caps for the England national rugby union team in 1961 as a lock forward, playing in all four matches of the 1961 Five Nations Championship. After switching to rugby league as a Second-row, French enjoyed a spell at his home town club, St Helens, but also enjoyed a successful spell at Widnes which he remembers fondly.

After training as a school teacher,[2] he taught at Cowley School in St Helens, Lancashire, where his local counterparts included Brian Ashton who taught at Stonyhurst College.

As well as continuing to coach rugby, French became a well known commentator on rugby league on both television and radio. He commentated for the BBC on every Challenge Cup final between 1982 and 2008. He is well known for his range of colloquialisms. French is regularly heard on the Rugby League show Try Time each Thursday on BBC Radio Merseyside giving his views on the state of the game in his forthright way.

In 2010 French received the Mike Gregory Spirit of Rugby League Award to mark his contribution to the game.[3]

Also President of the St Helens Past Players' Association, French was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to rugby league.[4]

County Cup final appearances[edit]

Ray French played Left-Second-row, i.e. number 12, in St. Helens' 25-9 victory over Swinton in the 1961 Lancashire Cup final during the 1961–62 season at Central Park, Wigan on Saturday 11 November 1961, played Left-Second-row, Hooker in the 15-4 victory over Leigh in the 1963 Lancashire Cup final during the 1963–64 season at Station Road, Swinton on Saturday 26 October 1963, and played Left-Second-row in the 12-4 victory over Swinton in the 1964 Lancashire Cup final during the 1964–65 season at Central Park, Wigan on Saturday 24 October 1964.

BBC2 Floodlit Trophy final appearances[edit]

Ray French played Left-Prop, i.e. number 8, in St. Helens's 0-4 defeat by Castleford in the 1965 BBC2 Floodlit Trophy final during the 1965–66 season at Knowsley Road, St. Helens on Tuesday 14 December 1965.

Famous quotes[edit]

  • "Now, then...!"
  • "It's thur!"
  • "Every time we come to Headingley there is a dog on the pitch. Why oh why people bring dogs to Rugby games, I'll never know!"
  • "He's a big lad, He's a strong lad!"
  • "Well, Vince Karalius once said to me that the only good Aussie is a dead Aussie!"
  • "This lad's got boots like carpet slippers"
  • "And if this man doesn't get man-of-the-match today then I've misjudged my judgement of Rugby League"
  • "And if you take a closer look Alex, Rick Thackeray has gorra tremendous gash.... just above his 'ead."
  • "And there we see the sad sight of Martin Offiah limping off with a broken finger."
  • "Well, these kicking tees get stranger by the minute. I was up in Humberside the other day, and there was a lad using one which looked like a traffic cone off the M62!!"
  • "Well Joe, in today's game it's all about pasta and enzymes, when I played we only had a segment of orange".
  • "Can he go all the way?"
  • "He's a little lad but he's got a big heart"
  • "And he's got the icepack on his groin there, so possibly not the old shoulder injury."
  • "And suddenly...!"
  • "There's the hooter!"
  • "And these superb pictures brought to us on this three-hundred and six-teeeee five degree camera...."
  • "He's going for the line!!"
  • "He's like a needle in a haystack, he's everywhere."
  • "Ohhh and that's Les Boyd again. What a temper this man's got".


  1. ^ Ray French takes his cup final leave
  2. ^ Ashton's long road to Paris, via Leigh and Tyldesley The Guardian - October 19, 2007
  3. ^ news.bbc.co.uk (27 September 2010). "Wigan's Pat Richards named 2010 Man of Steel". BBC Sport. Retrieved 10 September 2012. 
  4. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59647. p. 16. 31 December 2010.

External links[edit]