Map Sports

RLWC: It was bound to happen!

Today we saw to mighty NZ Kiwis flex their muscles in Avignon, as they put the French to the sword, 48-0.

Unfortunately the game was not a brilliant spectacle, as the rest of the games so far, have been. So this blog is not a comment about the Kiwis turning the ball over 14 times today, it is a comment about what I saw from the French and the possible reasoning behind it.

 

Lets be frank, the French were horrible. they were obviously sent out with the intention of controlling the ball at all cost, hoping that some steadfast defence and a 90% completion rate, coupled with additional ball from overzealous Kiwi errors, attempting second phase, would put them in with a hope towards the end of the game. Fine in theory.

 

Unfortunatley if you don't recognise the opportunity to attack when the ball is turned over and you apply the "over-cautious" label to everything you do, it can be difficult to get any rhythm as you are stifling your expressive side. It can cause you to be clunky and uncoordintated. This is what the French looked like today, clunky, unco-ordinated and we're not close to being competitive.

 

There has been much conjecture about the French and their position in the World of Rugby League. They can be considered a 'heartland outpost' so to speak. Tales of Puig Albert for the 1950's and Vichy impact have all been excuses offered to the reasons why French Rugby League struggles to get traction in a country of 80 million people. 

My reasoning, as was on show today was that they simply do not have the players to compete. Don't get me wrong, I ap not talking about depth, I am talking about their best 17.

 

Much like their English and other European counterparts the FFR struggle to hold onto their 'A' players (BEST) as they are 'purchased' to play Rugby Union on much bigger promises and pay checks. That leaves the 'B' players (NEXT BEST) to carry the torch against countries like Australia, where the opposite is in force. Even NZ have levelled the situation in regards to the distribution of 'A' players over the past 15 years.

 

It is going to take just as long for the French to build up the levels of attraction in Rugby League before the talent distribution levels out in that country. In that time, North Italy might be in the SuperLeague, PNG might be in the NRL and the proliferation of Pacific players into the NRL will have increased greatly, all lending itself to a much improved spectacle on the field internationally. This in turn will lead to greater commercial opportunities for the International game, so it isn't reliant upon a scattergun distribution model of funding every four years.

Hopefully the French can be pioneers of the games renaissance, both in Europe and globally.