France vs England: Talking points and team news for Saturday’s double-header in Perpignan | Rugby League News

England travel for France in an international clash on Saturday

England travel for France in an international clash on Saturday

We look at what is being said and team news ahead of Saturday’s women’s and men’s international double-header between England and France in Perpignan…

England Women: Back to where it all began

It is 14 years since the England Women’s team first stepped out onto the field for an international match and, on Saturday, they face the same opponents from that historic day when they take on France (kick-off 12pm UK time).

Vicky Molyneux was among the players who featured in that match back in 2007 as an 18-year-old and the Wigan Warriors forward is set to take on the French this time around too when the sides clash in Perpignan.

The secondary school teacher, who earned a recall to Craig Richards’ side for the mid-season international against Wales, was proud just to be pulling on an England shirt in that first game, but has seen huge progress following her return to the national set-up.

“It’s just how well we’re looked after, everything behind the scenes people watching the game don’t see and how much support we get,” Molyneaux said.

“It’s not just Craig and the coaching staff, but you’ve got strength and conditioners behind the scenes, sports psychologists, welfare manager, and the team manager and the admin side of it.

“We appreciate all the support we get, but it shows just how far the game has come along, to see how much we get to help us play the best game we possibly can.”

Vicky Molyneux in action for England against Wales

Vicky Molyneux in action for England against Wales

England were 54-4 victors over France last time the teams faced off in 2018 and while Molyneux has seen the progress the team have made in the past three years from that clash in Carcassonne, she expects the hosts to have made their own improvements too.

“You would expect there would be some improvement to the extent of how we’ve improved,” Molyneux said.

“We’ve progressed a lot as a team, so with the intensity and fitness levels we know we can play at as a team, hopefully they won’t be able to match us in that respect.

“But we definitely won’t be complacent; we’re ready for a battle, ready for the fight and we’ll give it our all from the starting whistle to the end.”

Andrade and Woosey set for England debuts

Savannah Andrade and Rachael Woosey are both set to make their England debuts when the women’s team face France.

Expected teams

England: Tara-Jane Stanley; Fran Goldthorp, Savannah Andrade, Amy Hardcastle, Caitlin Beevers; Jodie Cunningham, Beth Stott; Grace Field, Tara Jones, Chantelle Crowl, Emily Rudge (captain), Hollie Dodd, Vicky Molyneux.

Interchange: Shona Hoyle, Paige Travis, Vicky Whitfield, Rachael Woosey.

France: Elisa Ciria; Christina Song Puche, Melanie Bianchini, Zoe Pastre Courtine, Manon Samarra; Elodie Pacull, Alice Varela; Jeanne Bernard, Cyndia Mansard, Gaelle Alvherne, Elisa Akpa, Laureane Biville, Leila Bessahli.

Interchange (from): Fanny Ramos, Mailys Borak, Ines Legout, Tallis Kuresa, Lauriane Canet, Nadia Olm Rouppert, Perrine Montsarrat.

England men: Davies excited by French revolution

Tom Davies knows from personal experience how rugby league has grown in the south of France recently, having been part of Catalans Dragons’ rise in recent years.

Davies helped Catalans claim the 2021 League Leaders’ Shield and reach a first Super League Grand Final, with his 14 tries for the Dragons earning him a first call-up to the senior England squad as well.

The winger will win his first Test cap at his home ground of Stade Gilbert Brutus when England take on France on Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm UK time) and is savouring boom times for the 13-man code in the region.

“It’s gathering a lot of momentum at the minute, it’s really starting to take off there,” Davies said. “Toulouse won the Championship and they’re coming up and we won the league [Leaders’ Shield] this year so there’s a great buzz.

“Kids have got a new hero in [Catalans full-back and Man of Steel] Sam Tomkins and they are now going to get involved in the game, so we’ll see the effect of that in 10 or 15 years’ time.

“It’s even happening in the French Elite, you look at clubs like Lezignan, Limoux and St Esteve who are starting to build and get good teams – obviously Jimmy Maloney is there next year and Jason Baitieri.

“If we can get the French Elite up to Super League or Championship standard, it’s only going to improve the game.”

Whether that success at club level can be translated to the national team remains to be seen, with France having not beaten England since a 5-1 win at Headingley in 1981 where a try from Herve Guiraud and a penalty from Jose Moya proved enough to seal victory.

England's Tom Davies is excited by the boom time rugby league is experiencing in France

England’s Tom Davies is excited by the boom time rugby league is experiencing in France

But although that success and the 25-18 victory over Great Britain at the same venue in 1990 remain outliers, Davies is hopeful there can be regular competitive matches between the two nations who will also face each other in the pool stages of next year’s Rugby League World Cup.

“The Aussies and New Zealanders get together each year for the Anzac Test and, if we can get something like that with the French and have a competitive game, it’s only going to improve both the sides,” Davies said. “It tests us and brings the best out of us and vice versa.”

Expected teams

England: Niall Evalds; Tom Davies, Reece Lyne, Zak Hardaker, Tommy Makinson; Jonny Lomax, Jordan Abdull; Alex Walmsley, Paul McShane, Mike Cooper, John Bateman (captain), Liam Farrell, Morgan Knowles.

Bateman captains England; eight new caps to face France

John Bateman will lead an England team that includes eight uncapped players when they take on France on Saturday.

Interchange: Ben Currie, Kruise Leeming, Mikolaj Oledzki, Joe Philbin.

France: Mark Kheirallah; Ilias Bergal, Matthieu Laguerre, Mathieu Jussaume, Fouad Yaha; Arthur Mourgue, Tony Gigot (captain); Romain Navarrete, Marion, Jordan Dezaria, Benjamin Jullien, Paul Seguier, Mickael Goudemand.

Interchange (from): Eloi Pelissier, Maxime Puech, Justin Sangare, Corentin Le Cam, Mathieu Cozza, Cesar Rouge, Morgan Escare.

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