Long hoping France can keep up momentum ahead of England clash

Leeds Rhinos Assistant Coach Sean Long is hoping France can keep up the wave of success across the Channel ahead of Saturday afternoon’s clash with England in Perpignan.

Long is one of Laurent Frayssinous’ assistant coaches with the French national side and has been in camp with The Chanticleers since Tuesday. He says there is a real ‘feel good’ factor around Rugby League in France following the success of Catalans and Toulouse this season and hopes the national side can feed into that.

He commented, “Rugby League is buzzing over here at the moment on the back of Catalans and Toulouse efforts. Everyone is talking about Saturday’s game and hopefully there will be a big crowd inside Stade Gilbert Brutus. If we can get the crowd behind us it could be a big factor in our favour, just as it has been for the two club sides.

“We are missing five of our more experienced players but we have spoken about how this is a great opportunity for some of the younger players to really stake a claim ahead of the World Cup next year. I know England are missing a few too but they are able to bring in vastly experienced players to replace them. We will be giving eight lads their debuts and what they lack in experience they will more than make up for with enthusiasm,” added Long.

Long, who was capped six times for England in his playing career, will be part of the French coaching team for the first time this Autumn having previously worked with Samoa at earlier World Cups. He believes a strong performance against England will cap a great year for French Rugby League. He added, “It has been great to be over here and see how excited everyone is about the future of Rugby League. They are talking about getting 30,000 at the Toulouse-Catalans derby in the future and the young players can now see so many opportunities to play in Super League. Whilst Catalans and Toulouse have done well, international Rugby League is another level and we will have to match England for 80 minutes. However, with the World Cup a year away, we can also plan ahead, this is not a one off match but a chance to see where we are with a year to go. Regardless of the result we will be in a stronger position.”

France versus England will be shown live on BBC TV on Saturday 23 October – part of an international double-header also featuring the England Women’s team against their French counterparts. The Women’s match will be shown live on BBC2 with a midday kick-off UK-time – the first England Women’s international to be broadcast on terrestrial TV – followed by live coverage of the Men’s international on BBC1 at 2.30pm.