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Monday, 13 November, 2000, 08:55 GMT
France seek Super League return
Rachid Hechici
Rachid Hechici and France crushed South Africa
The French rugby league federation want to build on a promising World Cup tournament by launching another bid to join the European Super League.

Their rugby league renaissance may have been halted in no uncertain terms by their crushing defeat to New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final.

But the experience has left them aware their players need to experience rugby league at a higher level on a regular basis if they are to successfully compete on the world stage.

Club side Paris St Germaine used to be in the Super League but were not successful and the team folded three years ago.


We have established a platform now after years of being the paupers of the game
  Tas Baiteri
French spokesman Tas Baitieri said: "The Paris St Germain experience was wonderful but it was a band aid job.

"This World Cup has really given French rugby league a shot in the arm and it has made us determined to give it another go in the south, possibly with Toulouse as the major centre.

"But we will probably try to emulate what are now going to be known as the New Zealand Warriors and play games all around France. That way the whole country can get behind 'Club France'."

Paupers

Despite the quarter-final defeat, Baitieri sees this World Cup campaign as a potential launchpad for the game across the channel.

He said: "We have established a platform now after years of being the paupers of the game.

"Gilles Dumas and the players know that they have set a standard and from this we have to take off into a period of sustained development.

"But our serious long-term objective - and we have already had meetings - is to get a team in the European Super League in 2002.


If we don't do something about that then French rugby league runs the risk of disintegrating
  Tas Baitieri
"We are aware that there is certain criteria but we will be making a formal application to Super League Europe next week.

"Once we get the criteria back we will have a look at it and put a business plan together."

And the rush to join Super League has other motives too.

Baitieri continued: "The French are very keen to participate in that because it is also a way of keeping players in rugby league. Half this squad have been poached by rugby union, which is a concern.

"If we don't do something about that then French rugby league runs the risk of disintegrating."

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See also:

12 Nov 00 |  World Cup 2000
Clinical Kiwis see off France
05 Nov 00 |  Group 3
French seal spot in last eight
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