Rugby League: Double boost for bullish France

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FRANCE COULD be offered a double boost in its continuing battle for recognition inside and outside its boundaries. The Rugby League's chief executive, Neil Tunnicliffe, visits the country next week to discuss staging a qualifying group of the World Cup there in 2000 and the future of the Treize Tournoi.

Tunnicliffe will talk to the president of the French Federation, Jean- Paul Ferre, about whether they would be able to host games in the World Cup, the draw for which has yet to be re-arranged following the abandonment of the World Nines in Johannesburg next month.

The League would also like to repeat the Treize Tournoi, in which British clubs from outside Super League competed with the French at the end of last season. "As our closest rugby league neighbours, we want to involve them in the process of developing the game in the northern hemisphere," said Tunnicliffe.

The game in France is in bullish mood, with the pressure group, XIII Actif, succeeding in having a government inquiry set up into the confiscation of the game's funds by the Vichy regime during the War.

The scrapping of the Nines in South Africa has led to suggestions a nine- a-side tournament between club sides should be held before the start of the season, in aid of the family of Roy Powell, the Great Britain forward who died at the age of 33 at Christmas.

The proposal, sent by a reader to Open Rugby magazine, is that Yorkshire clubs, four of which Powell played for during his career, should compete, with all the proceeds going to his widow and two young children.

The first event at Sydney's Olympic Stadium - involving four teams from Australia's National Rugby League competition - has been brought forward to 6 March.