France national rugby league team

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Badge of France team
Team information
NicknamesLes Chanticleers
Les Tricolores
Governing bodyFédération Française de Rugby à XIII
Head coachAurélien Cologni
CaptainThéo Fages
Most capsPuig Aubert (46)
Top try-scorerRaymond Contrastin (25)
Top point-scorerPuig Aubert (361)
RLIF ranking6th
First colours
Team results
First international
 England 32–21 France 
(Paris, France; 15 April 1934)
Biggest win
 Serbia 0–120 France 
(Beirut, Lebanon; 22 October 2003)
Biggest defeat
 England 84–4 France 
(Leigh, England; 24 October 2015)
World Cup
Appearances15 (first time in 1954)
Best resultRunners-up, 1954; 1968
Old logo

The France national rugby league team represent France in international rugby league tournaments. They are referred to as les Chanticleers or less commonly as les Tricolores; 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 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, les Chanticleers have not done as well, not managing to win a single match in the 1995 World Cup, but doing slightly better in the 2000 World Cup with wins over 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 reached the quarter-finals of the 2013 World Cup where they were knocked out by England.[1]

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 à XIII" on 6 April 1934. Jean Galia, a former rugby union international and champion boxer, led 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 225 clubs and the national side won the 1938–39 European Rugby League Championship where they became the first French team in any sport to beat England at home.[2]


The game of rugby league suffered in France during the Second World War, as administrators had rugby league banned; some players and officials of the sport were punished (not reinstated in the French rugby union), whilst the total 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 in major international series against Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, despite continuing persecution (including remaining unable to call itself rugby until 1989, being called "jeu à XIII" (the game [played] in 13)). In 1949, they became the first French sporting team to win at Wembley Stadium.


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 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 before a crowd of 67,009. 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 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.[3] Despite this defeat France went on to retain the title with home victories over England and Wales.

In the 1954 World Cup, which was the first of either rugby code and was instigated by France, Les Tricolores 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. France donated the original World Cup trophy, but they have never won it.

France repeated the success of their 1951 tour in 1955, with even bigger attendances greeting the team. Puig Aubert had broken his arm just prior to the touring party leaving and did not tour. Despite this, France played splendidly to win the second test in Brisbane (in a spectacular game 29-28 before 45,000 fans at the Brisbane Cricket Ground) and the third test at the SCG; 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, held in Australia, the winner was decided by finishing top of the table with no final being played. 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.

France regained strength as the decade went on - defeating Australia quite comprehensively in the 1967-1968 series played in France, winning two games and drawing one.

The French reached 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 did not win a single match, but then on the 1978 Kangaroo tour, France beat Australia 13-10 and 11-10. This was Australia's last defeat in an international series or competition until the 2005 Tri-Nations.


Rugby league in France went through a riotous period at the beginning of the 1980s; the turbulent period was steadied by the influence of French Rugby League guru Jean Francois Bouchet, however poor results followed. [4] 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 by Australia. Away from home they suffered a large defeat against Great Britain in Leeds; the team reached a low point when they were forced to forfeit away World Cup games against Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea in the 1985-88 edition because of lack of funds. Their only World Cup win was against 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, France's first victory on English soil for 23 years and their last win over Great Britain/England; 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 Les 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 Tricolores 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 traveled 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.[5]

In 2004 the French returned to form with a narrow 20-24 loss to New Zealand and a losing but creditable performance against Australia. In 2005, Les Tricolores played Australia again in Perpignan, suffering a 12-44 defeat.[6] 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.

Papua New Guinea toured France in the winter of 2007, with France winning both matches. After the tour, a match in Paris was scheduled against New Zealand, who were on their way home from a 3-0 test series defeat by Great Britain. A last minute try secured a 22-14 New Zealand win in front of a decent crowd despite Paris rail strikes.[7] 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.

In 2014, France played in the 2014 European Cup, they came second in the tournament on points difference, by only 3 points, finishing behind Scotland therefore failing to qualify for the 2016 Four Nations.

In May 2015, France were set to take on South Africa However, the Africans had to withdraw due to the concerns of national contingencies. Therefore, France announced they'd play Serbia in Saint-Esteve on the 22 May; the French, who were labelled as France 'A' due to not being a full-strength side, went on to hammer the Serbs by 68 points to 8.

In October 2015, France played in the 2015 European Cup. During the tournament in November, after already confirming before the tournament's details were announced, France took on England in Leigh; the match was a warm-up game for England before their end-of-year test-series against New Zealand. The French were hammered by a record 80-point margin.[8]

In August 2016 Richard Agar, who began coaching France at the 2013 World Cup, left the national team, it is believed he left because new Fédération Française de Rugby à XIII president Marc Palanques wants a Frenchman to coach the national team.[9] Aurelien Cologni, who had a temporary spell from 2011-2012, became the new coach.

France played in The 2017 Rugby League World Cup being drawn in a group consisting of England, Lebanon and defending champions Australia. France got off to the worst possible start, suffering a shock loss to Lebanon 29-18 in Canberra; the following two games did not get any better for The French as they were thumped 52-6 by Australia and then suffered another big defeat to their old foes England 36-6 in Perth.[10][11][12]


As the winner of the 2018 Rugby League European Championship, France Qualified for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, their 16th appearance in the competition.



1994 Oceania Tour
2008 World Cup

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
1975 Fifth place 5/5 8 1 6 1
Australia/New Zealand 1977 Fourth place 4/4 3 0 3 0
1985–88 Fifth place 5/5 5 1 3 1
1989–92 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
England/Wales 2013 Quarter-finals 6/14 4 1 3 0
Australia/New Zealand/Papua New Guinea 2017 Group stage 12/14 3 0 3 0
Total 0 Titles 15/15 59 15 41 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 2016 Did not qualify
Total 0 Titles 1/5 3 0 3 0

European Cup[edit]

  • Note these are the results of the cups that had a 'Final' game and beyond.
European Cup record
Year Round Position GP W L D
2003 Second place 2/6 3 1 2 0
2004 Group Stage 3/6 2 1 1 0
Russia/Scotland/Wales 2005
Champions 1/6 3 3 0 0
Scotland/Serbia/Wales 2009
Not Invited
France/Ireland/Scotland/Wales 2010 Second place 2/4 3 2 1 0
Ireland/Scotland 2012 Not Invited
England/France/Ireland/Scotland/Wales 2014 Second place 2/4 3 2 1 0
France/Ireland/Scotland/Wales 2015 Second place 2/4 3 2 1 0
France/Ireland/Scotland/Wales 2018 Champions 1/4 3 3 0 0
Total 2 Titles 7/9 20 14 6 0

Current squad[edit]

Squad selected for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup qualifiers;[13]



Opponent Played Won Drawn Lost % Won Year/s
Total 340 122 15 203 36% 1934-
 Australia 62 12 2 48 20% 1938-2009
United Kingdom British Empire XIII 2 1 0 1 50% 1937-1949
 England 45 7 2 36 16% 1935-2015
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 8 6 1 1 75% 1997-2015
 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 10 8 0 2 80% 1997-2015
 Serbia 3 3 0 0 100% 2003-2015
 South Africa 2 2 0 0 100% 1997-2000
 Tonga 1 1 0 0 100% 2000
 United States 2 1 0 1 50% 1954-2013
 Wales 42 24 0 18 57% 1935-2015


Official Men's Rankings as of July 2019
Rank Change* Team Pts%
1 Steady  Australia
2 Steady  England
3 Steady  New Zealand
4 Steady  Tonga
5 Steady  Fiji
6 Steady  France
7 Steady  Samoa
8 Steady  Scotland
9 Steady  Lebanon
10 Steady  Papua New Guinea
11 Steady  Wales
12 Steady  Ireland
13 Increase 1  Jamaica
14 Decrease 1  Italy
15 Steady  United States
16 Increase 3  Greece
17 Decrease 1  Malta
18 Increase 2  Norway
19 Decrease 2  Serbia
20 Decrease 2  Hungary
21 Steady  Canada
22 Steady  Philippines
23 Steady  Poland
24 Steady  Niue
25 Steady  Czech Republic
26 Steady  Netherlands
27 Steady  Solomon Islands
28 Increase 17  Cook Islands
29 Steady  Russia
30 Decrease 2  Spain
31 Steady  Turkey
32 Increase 1  Vanuatu
33 Decrease 1  Chile
34 Steady  Japan
35 Decrease 5  Germany
36 Increase 1  South Africa
37 Decrease 2  Ukraine
38 Decrease 2  El Salvador
39 Increase 1  Hong Kong
40 Decrease 2  Sweden
41 Steady  Colombia
42 Decrease 3  Belgium
43 Steady  Argentina
44 Decrease 2  Thailand
45 Increase 1  Brazil
46 Decrease 1  Uruguay
47 Decrease 2  Denmark
48 Decrease 2  Bulgaria
*Change from December 2018

Notable players[edit]

Match Officials[edit]


Touch Judge

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rugby League World Cup 2013. RLIF Retrieved 16 August 2015. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ BBC NEWS | Programmes | From Our Own Correspondent | French rugby league fights for rights
  3. ^ "France defeated in 'Battle of the Boulevard'". 31 December 2007. Retrieved 1 January 2008.
  4. ^ Heads, Ian (24 May 1981). "French tour could be a riot!". The Sun-Herald. Australia. p. 86. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
  5. ^ Mascord, Steve (4 November 2002). "El Magic helps spread word to the Middle East". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia: Fairfax. Retrieved 20 February 2011.
  6. ^ "Kangaroos trounce France 44-12". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  7. ^ Andruczyk, Daniel. "France vs. New Zealand Rugby League Test Match 2007". YouTube. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  8. ^ "England demolish France 84-4 in record win". Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  9. ^ "Agar departs France job". LOVERUGBYLEAGUE. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "France confirm train-on squad for RLWC qualifiers". Rugby League Planet. 17 October 2018.

External links[edit]