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The French Rugby League has announced a strong line-up for their first European Nations Cup clash against Russia on Saturday. The team of mainly French based players will be given the task of reaching the Cup final after being knocked out by England in last years tournament.
The French national team has enjoyed a resurgence in the last 12 months. In games played during the Tri-Nations tours of last season, the French came close to defeating two of the rugby league superpowers. France led by 2 with five minutes to go against New Zealand only to go down 24-20, while they also gave the Kangaroos a scare by trailing them by only 4 points with 10 minutes to go before going down 52-30. Domestically the game has been given a breath of fresh air this year with Toulouse being the first foreign team to reach the quarter finals of the Challenge Cup, and the imminent arrival of Les Catalans to the English Superleague competition.
While Les Catalans have been signing talent in preparation for their Superleague debut, it is testament to the current strength of the local French competition that the 15 local players in the team come from 7 different teams. The two foreign based players, Damien Couturier (Hull KR) and Jerome Guisset (Wigan) will join their locally based teammates to prepare for the game that is to be played in Arles. Some Rugby League experts have discussed the introduction of France into an expanded Tri-Nations tournament in the near future, a prospect that will be encouraged by a dominant European Cup campaign by the French.
France XIII to play Russia
1. Renaud Guigue (Catalans) 2. Oliver Charles (Villeneuve) 3. Adam Innes (Saint-Gaudens) 4. Damien Couturier (Hull KR) 5. Jerome Hermet (Villeneuve) 6. Laurent Frayssinous (Catalans) 7. Maxime Gresquie (Pia) 8. David Ferriol (Limoux) 9. Cedric Gay (Toulouse) 10. Jerome Guisset (Wigan) 11. Laurent Carrasco (Villeneuve) 12. Gregory Mounis (Catalans) 13. Christophe Moly (Carcassonne)
Reserves: 14. Julien Rinaldi (Catalans), 15. Jamal Fakir (Catalans), 16. David Delpoux (Toulouse), 17. Sebastien Raguin (Toulouse)