The state of French rugby league on the outside is incredibly strong.
Catalans Dragons not long since played in a Super League Grand Final and won an inaugural League Leaders’ Shield.
Toulouse Olympique played in Super League last year and the World Cup is headed to France in 2025.
The Elite One Championship is attracting stars like 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 Catalans Dragons owner Bernard Guasch who revealed their fanbase was “crumbling” recently and now the French Rugby League President Luc Lacoste has been forced to write an open letter emploring clubs to attend a general meeting after receiving limited responses to the invite as he was left “disappointed” and fearing for the future of the game in France.
The open letter read:
“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.
“We tried to organize them a year and a half ago, but the health conditions of the time prevented them from being held.
“Many Clubs often complain of a lack of consultation, communication, consultation. I heard them and so we decided, 4 months ago now, organizing these States General for them – for all of you.
“Beyond the fact that it’s difficult for us to organize these General States effectively without visibility on what will ultimately be the participation, you’ll understand my disappointment ahead
this contradiction: how to hear your regrets and critics while you do not respond to the invitation to come express yourself and bring your ideas?
“How do you have your say if you don’t take advantage of it when we do? How to move forward a collective project, in the general interest, if you do not want to participate in the movement?
Because a project is never done alone, in its corner.
“Pursuing my will to straighten rugby to the French XIII will not happen without you. The Board of Directors can, of course, make decisions without consulting all the Clubs. But for us today, it is about getting everyone involved in a common approach and actions, so alone we can’t get there…
Your membership in our projects, your involvement, your ideas, the expression of the difficulties you encounter, are really necessary to us.
“So, even if it isn’t easy (but nothing is easy for anyone), I ask you: make the real effort to show up or be represented.
“We designed this shared reflection weekend so that everyone can have their voice heard and contribute.
“In order to make it easy for everyone to express themselves, the participants will be divided into roundtables of a staff limited to 20 people, all working on the ten topics remembered, which all touch the life of Clubs.
“And on Saturday night, a dinner will bring us together, where informal exchanges can continue in a moment of great friendliness, around dinner and entertainment, before a restitution of the work of each round table, on Sunday morning, at sea Nice plenary session. And everybody free at noon
“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.
“Reminder to sign up just turn in the pledge form, and you now have until Friday, January 6th to do so.
“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.”