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France on course for Tri-Nations

France stumbled to defeat against Samoa on Sunday
France struggled to make an impact at this year's World Cup

Rugby Football League boss Richard Lewis says he still expects France to play in the expanded Tri-Nations despite their World Cup disappointment.

France were tipped to lose out to Ireland for a place in the event, which takes place next year, after ending up bottom in the 10-team World Cup.

But Lewis, who is vice-chairman of the International Federation, said: "The Four Nations should be unchanged.

"It should be exactly what has been planned," he added.

The Tri-Nations has been revamped for its return in 2009, with England replacing Great Britain and the French also lining up alongside Australia and New Zealand.

But France collected the World Cup wooden spoon, while Ireland topped their pool and reached the semi-final qualifier, rising to sixth in the rankings.

Australia Rugby League chief executive Geoff Carr stated this week that Ireland's achievements in the World Cup should be recognised, but Lewis has thrown his weight behind France.

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"France have a more developed infrastructure. It's a bigger sport in France at the moment, and they deserve an opportunity to play in the Four Nations," added Lewis, the RFL executive chairman.

"They have been playing consistently every year against Australia and New Zealand. One of the key issues is that they are capable of staging matches, and that's important for the international game.

"Certainly France have been one of the disappointments in the World Cup - and they are the first to admit that - but it doesn't mean to say they don't deserve a chance in 2009 to play in the Four Nations."

Lewis says Ireland can have a future in the elite competition but believes they first have to prove themselves consistently in a second-tier international tournament.

"The Irish performed very creditably, but first we need to develop the game in Ireland," he said.

"They have got good development work going on there. The number of clubs and teams is increasing, and we need more of that.

"I hope the Irish government and their equivalent of the sports council will get behind them.

"Scotland, Wales and Ireland in a European Nations Cup would be a full-on competition. There could be other countries too - Russia, for example.

"It would be an attraction, and those nations - and Ireland in particular - would be able to increasingly stake a claim to be included in the Four Nations. But I think 2009 would be too early."

see also
Samoa & Tonga target Tri-Nations
01 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
France 10-42 Samoa
09 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
France 'need second SL franchise'
01 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Fiji 42-6 France
01 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Scotland 18-36 France
26 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
Kelly looking to 2013 World Cup
10 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Fiji 30-14 Ireland
10 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Ireland 34-16 Samoa
05 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Kelly proud of 'fantastic' Irish
05 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Tonga 22-20 Ireland
27 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
France to get Tri-Nations call-up
02 Dec 05 |  International


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