Sydney Roosters boss Trent Robinson is incredibly passionate about helping turn France into a rugby league nation that can compete with the world’s best.
The 45-year-old has taken on a director of rugby role with the French national team ahead of this year’s World Cup in England. He’s working alongside head coach Laurent Frayssinous to help build French rugby league on and off the field ahead of their hosting of the World Cup in 2025.
“I had contact with Luc (Lacoste) the (French Rugby League Federation) president and Laurent when he was being offered the job as the French coach,” Robinson told The Roar’s World Cup Chasers podcast.
“There was a big interest for me in assisting the French having spent six years there in playing and coaching roles and also with my partner and kids being French.
“I wanted to assist Laurent in the French rugby league role – but also to have a slightly longer-term view in getting French rugby league getting back to a better spot internationally. That’s a real passion for me.
“It’s a big moment for French rugby league to have a World Cup on home soil. It’s important for the development of the game in not just the men’s, but the women’s, wheelchair and youth so there’s an eye on the 2025 for the French.”
Allez les Bleus
Robinson played for Toulouse in the early 2000s before landing his first head coaching role with Catalans Dragons in 2011.
The Australian wants to help improve the culture of the French national team and help them return to their glory days of the past.
“I’ve been involved with Toulouse and Catalans, the two professional teams, but I haven’t been involved with the French team so I’m interested to see what the values are when I go in and how I affect that,” Robinson said.
“I’m a big believer in that DNA gets passed down through the jersey, whether we consciously know it or not. The struggles through the Vichy regime and the banning of the game in the 1940s and then the taking of grounds and clubs off rugby league, that was a big part in the history of rugby league. I could feel that tension from back then when I went in the early 2000s.
“In the glories of the 60s and 70s, they are the last great bastions of the French rugby league teams, holding onto that tradition and fire of the French that comes through the history of rugby league.
“They’ve had to fight for their history the whole time but how do we transform it into a modern day successful national team? That’s the question I have to work out as well.”
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France are in a group alongside Samoa, Greece and hosts England at the World Cup.
But it’s not just about this year’s tournament for Robinson. It’s about 2025 on home soil and having a long-term vision for the sport in France.
“There were a couple of years in the early days of Super League where they really took on New Zealand and Australia in the early 2000s, Robinson added.
“They took on Australia in Toulouse and New Zealand at Carcassonne and Laurent was a part of that French team that really went after those teams on their tours and narrowly lost to both of them.
“International rugby league is building now across the world. There’s a lot of interest. With Covid, the idea of getting travel and getting back overseas, there’s been some internationalism in rugby league which has created great interest from an Australian end. We need to really push forward as a French team.”
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