Shaun Wane will coach England’s men’s team in a Test match for the first time in October as part of an autumn calendar which will see four of the country’s rugby league teams return to the international scene.
Following the postponement of the Rugby League World Cup until 2022, the Rugby Football League have moved quickly to ensure that England coach Wane gets to see his team in action again following their clash with the Combined Nations All-Stars in June.
Having been appointed to the role in February 2020 in place of Wayne Bennett, Wane was forced to wait over a year to send a team out on the park due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But after that initial trial match with the All-Stars, his side will now meet France at Catalans Dragons’ Stade Gilbert Brutus on Saturday 23 October.
“A Test Match in France is a good option for us this autumn as we refocus on the World Cup in 2022,” Wane said upon the announcement of the international fixture. “French Rugby League is on the up through Catalans Dragons and Toulouse Olympique, and I know from experience that the French fans will passionately support their team at the Stade Gilbert Brutus.
“Come October I’ll pick the strongest possible team and make sure we’re well prepared for a tough challenge. The France game will come with less than a year until our World Cup opener against Samoa in Newcastle, and that makes it an important part of our planning.”
That match will form the second half of a double-header in Perpignan, with England’s women also taking on their French counterparts earlier that same afternoon.
And there will also be plenty of chance to see England’s other national teams in action through the autumn too. The England Knights are set to face Jamaica at Castleford’s Mend-a-Hose Jungle on Friday 15 October as part of Tigers star Jordan Turner’s testimonial festivities, while the nation’s wheelchair team will be in action twice in November.
Tom Coyd’s side will take on France in a two-game series, with the face match at Medway Park in Gillingham on Wednesday 10 November and the closing game of the international calendar going ahead at the same venue three days later.
"After the disappointment of World Cup postponement, we welcome this opportunity to test ourselves against the reigning world champions in a two-Test series,” said Coyd. “Our playing group worked incredibly hard, even throughout the height of the pandemic, and this is a wonderful reward for all their efforts. It is also a great chance to measure our progress against the best in the world.”
England fixtures, autumn 2021
Friday October 15: England Knights v Jamaica (Mend-a-Hose Jungle, Castleford – 745pm)
Saturday October 23: France Women v England Women (Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan – 1pm BST)
Saturday October 23: France Men v England Men (Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan – 330pm BST)
Wednesday November 10: England Wheelchair v France Wheelchair (Medway Park, Gillingham – 730pm)
Saturday November 13: England Wheelchair v France Wheelchair (Medway Park, Gillingham – 6pm)