French Rugby League outline “eleven themes” to try save the sport following President’s plea

It was reported just under one week ago that the President of French Rugby League, Luc Lacoste, was begging for clubs to attend their upcoming general meeting in a bid to save the sport from “crumbling”.

That appeal has had some resonance among the owners and fans of clubs in France and as such the ‘General Estates’ meeting, the term coined from the early parliamentary process during the French revolution, is set for the weekend of the 21st and 22nd of this month.

It’s easy to think that French rugby league is in a brilliant place when you consider the recent success of Toulouse Olympique as they became just the third French side to play in Super League.

Catalans Dragons are only a season removed from having appeared in the Grand Final and have also achieved a Challenge Cup victory at Wembley.

Moreover the state of rugby league in France itself is seemingly thriving with Tony Gigot having signed for Albi to join a the Elite One division that features the likes of ex-Hull FC Hakim Miloudi, former Wigan Warriors fullback Morgan Escare, ex-Leeds Rhinos hooker James Segeyaro and NRL heroes like Corey Norman and James Maloney.

However it was the open letter from Lacoste that shook French rugby league and has ensured that all those French clubs do attend their General Estates meeting, with the letter that was shared to Facebook reading in damning nature towards clubs.

“As of January 3, 2023, despite several revivals from the administrative management, then directly from the Secretary General of the federation , I notice that many clubs have not registered in the States General which will be held on January 21 (all day) and 22 (morning), in Carcassonne.
“Of course I thank those who do. To others, I wish to express my misunderstanding, maybe my disappointment. These Generals seem to me to meet an expectation.”
With those words encouraging clubs to register their interest and attendance a programme has since been released by the French Federation detailing what can be expected with 11 ‘Round Table’ discussions to be held.
The topics at those ‘Round Tables’ will feature multiple themes rounding off with the 2025 World Cup with the below list a direct translation from the French Federation’s site of what can be expected.
  1. Transfers: issues, regulations, training allowances
  2. Management of Championships and calendars
  3. Relations with the Elite and its Club Clubs (or how to play at your best level close to home)
  4. Increase in the number of young licensees (Rugby Schools, U15, U17 and U19)
  5. Actions of the Federal Commissions and relations with the Clubs
  6. Accessibility issues in the service of the growth in the number of licensees (competitions, animations, promotion, target audiences…)
  7. Decentralization issues and relations Clubs / Committees / Leagues / Federation
  8. Challenges faced by Clubs and support
  9. Internal communication within the federal network, relations with Headquarters and social networks
  10. Volunteering: challenges and future, leadership training
  11. World Cup 2025

It would seem that the appeal from Lacoste may well have saved the sport in France with his iconic plea at the end of his open letter having clearly worked.

“From the wealth of debates of each roundtable, repeated on Sunday, will emerge true lines of forces that will allow us to hierarchize them afterwards and implement them a good number of them, with a single objective shared by all: the renewal of rugby in the French XIII.
“Really, and I am truly sorry to have to write these few words today, your participation matters, your voice matters, and it’s good in these states Generals that you can hear it.
“Hoping you will understand the meaning of this call, in view of the stake for our future
common, I thank you in advance for making this little effort that I believe is so useful for your sport that you say you love so much.”
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