England v France to continue in 2025 with new venue suggested as bosses address controversy

Aaron Bower
George Williams, Jack Welsby and Harry Newman

England will play France again in a mid-season international next year despite the disappointment of last weekend’s Test in Toulouse, Love Rugby League can reveal.

And Perpignan is being eyed up as a probable venue for the match, after RL Commercial chief Rhodri Jones conceded the game was a ‘disappointing portrait of international rugby league’. There was significant uproar about the game, which was not broadcast on television and played as a curtain-raiser to Toulouse’s Championship game versus Featherstone.

But Jones insists that the plans for England to regularly and routinely play France every mid-season remain categorically unchanged – though he admits they may have to rethink where it is played to give the game the best chance of success.

“It was played alongside a Toulouse game, so that’s a lesson for us – to make sure there’s no competition in rugby league to give it the best opportunity,” he said.

“I will say that Toulouse’s rugby union side won the Top 14 the night before, so there were 50,000 people partying in Toulouse while England were playing France down the road.

“I would suggest that we play the game in Perpignan next year: that’s got the biggest share of rugby league fans in France. And I think that would give it a real opportunity to succeed.”

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Jones admitted he could not pick fault with those who have lambasted the occasion last weekend, either.

“You’d have to say it was a disappointing portrait of international rugby league,” he admitted. “It’s been well-documented and you can’t disagree with that.

“From a performance perspective it was positive but from the periphery, looking at everything, it was clearly disappointing and that’s something we need to reflect on.

“But we need to persevere with this. IMG’s reimagining of the game detailed we should play France on a consistent, annual basis. It might not fix itself within one or two years: this has to be a longer play.

“We need to support the French Federation and understand the landscape of where the game is both here and there. From an on-field perspective, France were as strong as they have been for a number of years and that’s a positive.”

Jones also confirmed there are no imminent plans to rewrite the domestic calendar to accommodate more international rugby league, insisting that it is simply not possible – with a mere one-week international break the plan for 2025 once again due to the amount of Super League fixtures that are scheduled to be played.

“You’re either extending the season, or changing the domestic calendar, and at the moment the plan remains a one-week window, on the same designated weekend.

“But clearly, there are a lot of things we can be doing better.”

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