1 Nov 2022
France looking for heaven in 'pool of hell'
Les Tricolores kickstart their women's Rugby League World Cup campaign against New Zealand
By Milly McEvoy
France coach Vincent Baloup is searching for a slice of heaven as his side take on the ‘pool of hell’ at the women's Rugby League World Cup.
Les Chanticleers will take on three-time champions New Zealand on Wednesday before facing holders Australia, who between them have won all five of the previous tournaments.
Rounding out Pool B are the Cook Islands who boast plenty of NRLW talent and provide a difficult final game for France who begin against the Kiwi Ferns in York.
“In a group like ours you need ambition, the first thing that we want to do is represent our French jersey, to wear the jersey with pride and also to do a good job of representing the French Federation,” Baloup said.
“We certainly want to do our best and in order to do your best in a pool like ours, a pool of hell, you certainly need to maximise all your resources.
“We weren't involved in the last tournament so obviously now is even more important for us to be ambitious and to prove ourselves here.
“We want to do as well as we can now and also to spur on the next generation to take part in France 2025.”
France will host the next edition of the World Cup in three years’ time, but captain Alice Varela has already ruled herself out of that tournament.
The 37-year-old will be competing in her third World Cup in England and while she will look to impart her wisdom and experience on her younger teammates, she will also be looking to them for help.
Four of France’s squad ply their trade at Super League side York City Knights, winning the League Leaders’ Shield this season.
And with all three of Les Chanticleers’ games being played in York, Varela is hopeful they can use that to their advantage.
She said: “It's an experience that we can utilise. The girls that have been over here playing have taught us a lot about playing at a higher standard than the one that we're used to playing back at home.
“It's certainly experience that we need to develop the game and it's experience that we'll be utilising while we're here.
“We are just really excited about playing against the teams in our group, we're going to try to execute our own game plan.
“We've been working hard on that, so we're going to try and play as we want to. It is a pool of hell and we've just got to put our best foot forward and do our best to play against these nations.”
The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via rlwc2021.com/tickets