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Robinson, Bennett backing French revival and 2025 World Cup bid

Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson believes Toulouse's promotion to Super League will provide a massive boost for France's prospects at next year's World Cup and a French bid to host the 2025 tournament.

Toulouse will join Catalans in Super League after beating Featherstone 34-12 and Robinson, who has coached both clubs, said having two French teams in the elite Northern Hemisphere competition would strengthen the game in France.

"You can't form a national team out of one [club] team," said Robinson, who is also the FFRXIII director of rugby. "You need players to go to England, like they do, but now they have two Super League teams to dream about.

"You will now get positions filled with different players and we will see that professionalism and consistency of performance shown by Toulouse and Catalans this season added to the emotion and passion that has always been in the game in France."

Robinson is backing a French bid to host the 2025 World Cup in the belief that a revitalisation of rugby league in France would be a huge shot in the arm for the international game.

The bid also has the support of seven-time premiership-winning coach Wayne Bennett.

FFR XIII president Luc Lacoste is hoping to hear from the French Government later this month about his bid to bring the World Cup home to France, where the tournament and the Paul Barrière Trophy originated in 1954.

France, who regularly beat Australia until the 1980s, hit an all-time low when their Test team was thrashed 62-4 by a Junior Kangaroos side featuring the likes of Ryan Papenhuyzen, Kalyn Ponga and David Fifita in 2019 at WIN Stadium.

However, under Lacoste the game is undergoing a resurgence in France, with Catalans winning the Super League minor premiership before losing last weekend's grand final 12-10 to St Helens and Toulouse being unbeaten in the second-tier Championship.

Significantly, the success of Catalans and Toulouse has coincided with the emergence of home-grown talent such as Arthur Morgue, Paul Seguier, Mathieu Laguerre and Mathieu Jussaume.

Robinson is helping France coach Laurent Frayssinous prepare a team to play England on October 23 in Perpignan and has been closely following the form of the players who have helped Catalans and Toulouse achieve success.

"I know that Catalans lost but to watch the maturity with which two French teams played is brand new for French rugby league," Robinson said.

"Catalans and Toulouse are leading the way and now it is up to us as the national team to follow suit."

Robinson played for Toulouse when the club's 20-year campaign to join the Super League began and was coach in 2005 so he has first-hand knowledge of how hard long serving officials Carlos Zalduendo and Bernard Sarrazain have worked.

The three-time premiership-winning coach has a deep passion for the game in France and returned in 2011 for a two-year stint in charge of Catalans before being taking on the Roosters job in 2013.

"Trent loves France but more than this Trent is convinced that France is a very good story for rugby league," Lacoste said. "The 2025 World Cup is a big opportunity for France.

Every try from the 2021 State of Origin series

"We need to show everybody that France has an ambitious project and that is why it was important for me to have Trent help us with the national team - not only for the next World Cup but for the next five, 10, 20 years or as long as possible."

Lacoste said Bennett also wanted to help France become competitive again after falling away since their domination of the international game in the 1950s and 1960s.

"Wayne is also a brilliant guy and he loves France," Lacoste said. "It is evident to him that international rugby league needs France. It is not to show that we are the best, but I think we are what everybody needs.

"France has a big role to play in rugby league because the past of France was a brilliant past. We have a part of history and because of that we are a part of the future.

 "We have two clubs in France who have had marvellous seasons. About 85 per cent of our players come from these two clubs so it shows that we can compete."

Lacoste believes that hosting the 2025 World Cup will accelerate the growth of the game in France and he is aiming to increase the number of teams that would contest the men's, women's, wheelchair and youth tournaments.

The final would be staged in Paris, but World Cup matches would be spread around France to enable visiting fans to enjoy a taste of other regions.  

"We want a World Cup for everybody," Lacoste said. "We will be very proud to welcome people from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific nations, and we know that our country is able to receive these tourists because France is the most touristed country in the world.

"The 2023 Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Olympic Games are in France, so we have all the infrastructure. It also means we have the know how to manage big events.

"It is not only France that needs the World Cup, I think that rugby league needs the World Cup to be in France."

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