France coach Aurélien Cologni has called for improved relations between the nation’s governing body and Super League clubs after his undermanned team lost 62-4 to the Junior Kangaroos at WIN Stadium on Friday.
With 14 of their best players missing, France were always going to struggle against a team of the best up-and-coming NRL stars and trailed 42-0 at half-time.
Many of France’s top players, including Theo Fages, Morgan Escare, Tony Gigot, Gadwin Springer and Mark Kheirallah, did not make the trip to Australia, while captain Jason Baitieri quit the team after last weekend’s World Cup 9s.
While some players are injured, it is understood that others were dissuaded from playing by their clubs due to a lack of confidence in the Federation Francaise de Rugby XIII.
Baitieri highlighted the issues in a statement to French media outlet L’independent in which he said: “The lack of professionalism weights on the entire preparation of sports events”.
Match Highlights: Junior Kangaroos v France
It is believed Baitieri has the support of the absent players and those who played against the Junior Kangaroos.
“There are a lot of things to fix in France with our country and the board, and with the clubs,” Cologni said. “There is a lot of things to improve, we have a job to do improve the level of the selection.”
Cologni was disappointed with the lack of intensity shown by his young squad in the first half but his overwhelming emotion was frustration that France had been unable to field their best team.
“Do you think they would have made a difference? It is like a team,” he said of the 14 absent stars. “It is a complete team so that is a problem we have.
“At the moment they have to make a choice between the selection and the club so that is the first problem, and year after year we have the same problem.
"If we want to improve we have to fix that. That is not my responsibility, it is the board’s responsibility.”
France get on the board
While the match would have provided an insight into the standard the France players need to aspire to ahead of the 2021 World Cup, Cologni said conditions off the field needed to improve. too.
“It is not just about the game; it is about the training, it’s about our conditions, it’s about a lot of things that have to improve,” he said.
“If you want to progress you have to work hard in France and it is not the case at the moment because we haven’t got enough camps, we haven’t got enough time together as a team. “