France gearing up for World Cup

Players and administrators from the two host cities staging 2013 Rugby League World Cup fixtures in France are eagerly anticipating the opportunities ahead.

In Group B, France will play host to New Zealand in Avignon and Samoa at Catalan Dragons‘ Stade Gilbert Brutus in Perpignan.

“The Parc des Sports’ staging of a 2013 Rugby League World Cup match is an honour for the town of Avignon, which has always been crazy for the oval ball,” said Deputy Mayor Marie-Josée Roig.

“Avignon has already confirmed its reputation as a treiziste town capable of attracting large crowds.”

There are 200 sports clubs in the ‘City of the Popes’ and Dragons winger Vincent Duport, who is a native, cannot wait to run out there in the tournament.

“Avignon has always known the value of our sport and has always warmly welcomed French rugby league,” he declared at the announcement.

“In 2010, against Ireland, the Parc des Sports had more than 15,000 spectators. In 2011, more than 17,000 turned up to support the Tricolors against England. It is a city that the national team plays well in and I’m certain that facing New Zealand, in the World Cup, we can accomplish something special.”

There was similar expectation in Catalan. “Perpignan and rugby league have a common history; more than that, they share a prestigious history,” commented Jean Marc Pujol, Mayor of Perpignan.

“Not only is XIII Catalan the most decorated club in France, now the Catalan Dragons represent the region in Europe, in the Super League. A rugby city, a treiziste culture, a renowned stadium, a successful Catalan Dragons, an interested public: all the ingredients are there to welcome the national side in the World Cup.”

His sentiments were endorsed by Thomas Bosc, the creative Catalan utility player who has made 17 appearances for France.

“Having spent time with this French squad, we’ve evolved together. There’s a real togetherness between the players. Against England [in Avignon, last year] we did some great things.”

“Being a native of Perpignan, I’m immensely proud that we’ll be playing a match here in the World Cup, in front of my family and friends. It’s an honour for the city and its citizens. I’m certain the treizistes of France will prove themselves worthy.”

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