Laurent Frayssinous names French squad for England clash
The success of Catalans Dragons and Toulouse Olympique in 2021 is reflected in the France team to face Shaun Wane’s England in Saturday’s one-off Test in Perpignan.
Despite the unavailability through injury of key forwards Ben Garcia and Julian Bousquet, the Dragons have 10 players in the 20-man squad which has been selected by France coach Laurent Frayssinous,- including exciting youngsters Matthieu Laguerre and Arthur Mourgue.
Toulouse have nine members of the squad which has ensured they will join the Dragons in the Betfred Super League in 2022 - including the former Catalans star Tony Gigot, their Australian-born full-back Mark Kheirallah who has long since qualified in residency, and Mathieu Jussaume, one of the stars of their promotion-sealing win against Featherstone.
Morgan Escare, the former Catalans and Wigan full-back who now plays for the Salford Red Devils, completes the 20.
In contrast the France Women’s squad, who will also face England in the first match of the double header at the Stade Gilbert Brutus, draws players from seven clubs - although again the Déesses Catalanes and Toulouse Ovalie are well-represented, with other players from Marseille, Bordeaux and a strong representation from Racing Club Lescure Arthes XIII.
Frayssinous said: "This is a good quality group despite some missing with injury. It combines experience and youth with 10 players who are likely to celebrate their first selection in blue.
"This Test Match against England is the start of our new planning for the 2022 World Cup and I am confident that we will give the English a challenge."
France are in the same group as England for RLWC2021 in the Men’s tournament, with Samoa and Greece, adding extra interest to the fixture - which will be shown live on BBC1.
England and France are in different groups in the Women’s tournament, but this remains an important fixture both for the England head coach Craig Richards and for France’s Vincent Baloup - with groundbreaking live coverage on BBC2 to continue the recent progress of Women's Rugby League.
France squads to face England at Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan, on Saturday October 23
Toulouse Olympique XIII -
Corentin Le Cam
Salford Red Devils
Rc Lescure Arthes 13
Girondins De Bordeaux
Marseille XIII Avenir
The referees of the two Test matches have also been confirmed. Benjamin Casty will be at the whistle of the men's clash, and the women's tie will be refereed by Andrew Pilkington.
Casty, a former player, has been a referee at international level since 2014. He officiated in the Final of the French Championship as well as in the Final of the Coupe de France in recent years and regularly referees in the Elite championship.
Stuart Cummings, IRL match officials manager, welcomed the appointment of the FFRXIII referee, saying: “Benjamin Casty is the only elite pnel member to officiate this time around. We would have liked to appoint a neutral referee for the France-England game, but travel restrictions hampered that.
"However, Ben is certainly ready for this game. He's a good referee with a lot of experience and as a former player he respects and knows the game inside and out."