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“Disgraceful and embarrassing” – James Graham “p***ed off” at state of England game

James Graham

Ex-St Helens star and England international James Graham has hit out at the state of International Rugby League after the dismal attendance and poor production for the game between England and France in Toulouse on Saturday.

The day was built up as a triple-header to celebrate 90 years of Rugby League in France with England’s Men’s and Women’s sides taking on their French counterparts before Toulouse Olympique hosted Featherstone Rovers at the Stade Ernest-Wallon.

Despite the fact that international stars were on show as well as two of the Championship’s top sides, an attendance of just 4,500 was recorded meaning that the 19,000-capacity stadium was less than a quarter full making for a terrible look for the sport.

That’s something that James Graham has called out on his podcast The Bye Round in a passionate rant about the state of International Rugby League and how it has been failed by the sport’s governing bodies.

Graham said: “I’m actually embarrassed about England Rugby League and the crowd, but I don’t even know if you can call it that. They played France and I don’t even know if I want to highlight this because it is that embarrassing.”

The former NRL star even had to add context and explain to co-host Brandon Smith of the Roosters that the game had taken place, such was the lack of promotion for it, with Graham clarifying: “England played France on Saturday in a doubleheader in Toulouse and it is beyond embarrassing. It is so bad the amount of people out there.”

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“I felt so bad for the lads” – James Graham slams ’embarrassing’ England-France international

James Graham was a huge proponent and fan of International Rugby League with the former Saint becoming one of just a handful of players to receive a Golden Cap for playing 50 or more times internationally (46 for England and four for Great Britain).

However, he has hit out in his reaction to the game on Saturday, even claiming that he felt sorry for those who had to play in the game as he argued that it was a sad state of how far the international game has dropped.

James Graham argued on his podcast The Bye Round: “I love international rugby league and loved playing for my country but I felt sorry for the lads that had to endure playing in front of a couple of people and their dog. That’s not what you should be looking at for the pinnacle of our sport.

“It was disgraceful. It actually pissed me off. It was so so embarrassing. For International Ruby League to be like that, there’s no excuse. You cannot offer me an excuse to why you play a game in Toulouse a doubleheader against France. If you had a look at it, you’d be shocked at how bad it is.”

“I turned off” – England great refused to watch shocking coverage

Credit: Imago Images

He also made a note of the fact that it wasn’t broadcast on television but instead was streamed, explaining that he felt compelled to turn it off rather than actually watch given the poor quality, something that plenty of other fans lamented.

“I’m not gonna criticize the production company, but they didn’t get BBC, Channel 4 or Sky to do the game. I had genuinely no idea who was commentating the game as well. I put it on and it was that bad that I turned it off.

“I’ve not even watched any of the play because there’s no appeal to watch it. I wanted to get that off my chest because it’s been pissing me off so as you can probably tell.”

Interestingly, the game was broadcast on Kayo Sports but Graham argued that he’d rather it have not been shown, such was the sub-par standard.

“I don’t know if it’s on Australia to promote it or make people aware of it, but honestly, you wouldn’t want to know it’s on. It’s that bad. I’m embarrassed.

“I felt so bad for the lads that are there trying to sing the anthem in front of no one and then you’ve got the dignitaries coming around shaking your hand. This is supposed to be like a proud moment in someone’s life.

“It was so annoying and I felt for these lads. You’re supposed to be dreaming of playing for England and that’s what you get man.”



  1. John

    July 2, 2024 at 2:02 pm

    You can give it the heading “International”, but effectively it’s giving the England players a run out. If we want to attract crowds, we need competitive matches. I’m sure there are a thousand reasons why it was stopped, but what happened to the games against The Exiles from a couple of seasons ago?

  2. Philip

    July 2, 2024 at 4:26 pm

    The Ginger Whinger strikes again!
    So says the man who ditched the Superleague to chase the riches of the NRL thus denuding us of one of our stars and making our competition weaker – thus less attractive to watch. The more of our players that go the more likely we are to reach the standard of the France/England international.

  3. Michael Grebert

    July 2, 2024 at 10:00 pm

    I am a Queensland’s living in Toulouse. Obviously, I am a passionate rugby league supporter. I am flabbergasted to hear that I have missed an opportunity to see an international game here. What are the promoters doing???? I heard nothing about it!

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