The big story this week has of course been the news that France will no longer be hosting the 2025 Rugby League World Cup.
But Jon Wilkin has said he is not surprised:
“I am not all together surprised. If you look at the political landscape in France, it is very complicated with two votes of no confidence.
“People are striking over the retirement age going up from 62 to 64 and the government are going after banks over 2.5 million euros worth of tax issues.
“They are tightening their belts all over the show, in the light of that to host a tournament of little interest to people in Paris, that is going to lose money, it would make sense to cut it.
“Decisions are made in Paris. It is very much like London and the North in this country, it doesn’t reflect the feelings of some of the strong rugby league areas in France. It is such a disappointment. It is completely understandable when you look at the politics. People are striking and I think they have taken the easy option here.”
As he spoke about France, he said:
“We are a game obsessed with growth and I have said this a number of times. We don’t need to look much further than France to do that.
“It is an amazing part of the world with a rich history of the game until rugby league was banned by the government in the 20th Century.
“I think France is a must for rugby league. It is a big blow. England need a local rival that they can play against.
“On the back of last year’s World Cup it was so positive and it is so rugby league to go and cancel a tournament, the next tournament! Not just a game but a whole tournament, all the hard work and all the people who got invested in the wheelchair game, the women’s game and the men’s game and all of that is now overshadowed by this announcement.
“It is desperately sad.”
He then went on to praise what Catalans Dragons have done saying that everyone should give their owner Bernard Guasch a guard of honour:
“England need a competitor and they are certainly not getting that from Scotland, Ireland or Wales.
“French rugby league is tough, it survives and it is thriving right now, Just look at Catalans Dragons. Every time that team runs out we should all form a guard of honour for Bernard Guasch for what he has done for rugby league.”