Frederic Camel, coach of Carcassonne who play in the French Elite 1, has spoken about his desire for his side to face Championship opposition to gauge the level of French rugby league.
Carcassonne are one of the most successful sides in French rugby league, outside of break-off teams like Catalans Dragons and Toulouse Olympique who now play against English competition in the Super League and Championship respectively.
Having led his side to consecutive finals in the 18/19 and 20/21 seasons (19/20 abandoned due to the pandemic) Camel went one step further in 21/22 securing a second Elite 1 title for his side.
He spoke recently in an interview with French publication Treize Mondial discussing where the French game stands and also of a former Super League star in his team.
Asked about the levels in Elite 1, Camel explained: “I think the level is still going up! And the most satisfying thing is that all the teams have grown stronger! The numbers are attractive and we find big names in our sport in our championship. Des Miloudi, Puech, Escaré, Whare, Paulo, Jullien, Segayaro, Clark, Garbutt, play in the French championship and the French are at the level.
“Seeing also Cozza, Lacans chosen by Featherstone and Sean Long demonstrate the quality of our championship. I think the level has only been going up for several seasons.”
Camel references in particular Mathieu Cozza and Thomas Lacans, both of whom have joined Featherstone Rovers where Sean Long is now leading the side in their ambitions for Super League rugby.
Camel then suggested that: “It would be interesting to confront League 1 and Championship teams to measure the real level!”
With so many French players, and a French team, now playing in the Championship there’s potential for further expansion and a game between the champions of English divisions outside of Super League and Elite 1 could be the ultimate test for French rugby league, comparable to the test each Super League champion takes on in facing NRL champs during the World Club Challenge.
France recently performed well at the World Cup beating Greece and troubling England by going into half-time against the hosts only one score down, before ultimately losing 42-18.
The French domestic season starts earlier than the English and Camel’s Carcassonne side are currently nine games in with only one defeat and impressed at the weekend with a thumping 56-8 victory over Villeneuve.
One reason they’re so dominant would be the signing of former Catalans star Morgan Escare, who Camel has plenty of plaudits for.
“Morgan brings great added value to the team, at all levels! He has integrated perfectly into the club and we have the impression that he has been there for several years! His experience helps the whole group and he can share his experience with the other players and the staff. His speed, his vision, his technique sharpen our attack even more and the danger today comes from everywhere.”