League: 2015 France tour on cards

By Michael Brown

Alex Glenn and the Kiwis beat France 48-0 at the World Cup. Photo / Getty Images
Alex Glenn and the Kiwis beat France 48-0 at the World Cup. Photo / Getty Images

The Kiwis are lining up an end-of-year test against France in New Zealand in 2015, the first time the French have toured this country since 2001.

The Four Nations will be played in 2014 and 2016, with the next World Cup in 2017, meaning there's a gap in New Zealand's international calendar.

Some discussions took place about playing the British Lions, who are touring Australia in 2015, but that is shaping up as a three-test 'Ashes' tour. The plan at this stage is for France to play one test against the Kiwis as well as two midweek games against sides like a New Zealand amateur XIII.

"It's still early days but we are keen to get them down to New Zealand and have had some conversations with the French rugby league about it," said NZRL chief executive Phil Holden, who has met French officials while in the UK for the World Cup. "We are hopeful of sorting something out."

France first toured New Zealand in 1951, when the Kiwis won 16-15, and the two teams played regularly over the years.

The French last toured New Zealand in 2001 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first tour. The Kiwis won the only test 36-0 but France notched up wins over the South Island, Central Districts and Northern Districts.

Although France are ranked fourth in the world, they had a poor World Cup and were beaten 48-0 by the Kiwis in their second pool game in Avignon.

The NZRL will also know early next year whether their joint bid with Australia to host the 2017 World Cup is successful. Holden was part of the delegation that presented their bid to the international board in the UK this week.

South Africa have also bid to host the tournament but face considerable challenges, not least of all the fact the South African Government don't recognise rugby league.

Holden said they presented a proposal for the World Cup to remain a 14-team tournament. One pool would be hosted in New Zealand and three in Australia - one of those three would be based in North Queensland with some games in Papua New Guinea.

The NZRL have designs on hosting the final at Eden Park but Holden said they recognised the need for the game to be staged where it can deliver the biggest commercial return. The transtasman partners believe they can take the World Cup to a new level of organisation and branding.

"One of the key thrusts in our presentation was the opportunity for the international federation to consolidate the gains made in this tournament and turn it into a brand with global reach," Holden said.

- Herald on Sunday

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