France and England Name Wheelchair Squads For Rematch

24 Nov 2023

France and England will clash in a Wheelchair international for the second time this month when the world champions travel to Palais Des Sports in Marseille for a 3pm Kick Off on Saturday 25th November. 

The two sides will again play for the Fassolette-Kielty Trophy, named in honour of the French and British pioneers Robert Fassolette and Malcolm Kielty who led the early development of Wheelchair Rugby League, held currently by France after their 34-43 victory over England in front of a bumper crowd of 2,300 at the Leeds Arena earlier this month.

The rematch sees France shuffle their side, with Christophe Vilar, Nicolas Lemaitre and Mostefa Abassi coming into the named 10-player squad, with Julien Penella and Gilles Clausells missing out from the squad which travelled to England.

“What happened in Leeds earlier this month was certainly a great sporting spectacle and a very good match from our perspective which saw us beat the world champions” commented Laurent Dupuy, co-coach of the French side. “As in any confrontation, the hardest part is to back up that victory with a further win. We have made the decision to trust the majority of players who travelled to England last time, but with a few changes owing to availability of players.”

“We were pleased with our performance, but on review of the first game, we found plenty that we could improve upon in both attack and defence and we know that England will be hurting from the loss and will be looking for their own improvements. It will be a tough battle and we are counting on a large crowd to support us!”

Meanwhile England remain unchanged for the encounter, naming a 9-player squad made up of the same players from the previous game, with Head Coach Tom Coyd hoping for an improved performance. 

“We’re really looking forward to the game” noted Coyd. The match against France at the first direct Arena earlier this month was a great occasion for Wheelchair Rugby League, but obviously not the result we wanted. Our focus since then has been to get out to Marseille for what will hopefully be another successful Wheelchair Rugby League event, and to produce a better performance.”

Like the previous encounter, the game will be played to trial new laws of the game which are being proposed to the IRL for adoption from 2024, which sees the squads reduced to 8 players, sin bins reduced to 5 minutes only, changes to the interpretation over diving and to how players with limited movement may score a try. 

Christophe Vilar (Cavaillon),Jérémy Bourson, Damien Doré, Arno Vargas (Dragons Catalans), Mostefa Abassi (Lions De St Jory), Lionel Alazard, Nicolas Lemaitre (Montauban), Florian Guttadoro, Yann Verdi, Adrien Zittel (S.O. Avignon).

Sebastien Bechara (Catalans Dragons), Wayne Boardman, Rob Hawkins (Halifax Panthers), Josh Butler, Nathan Collins, Tom Halliwell (Leeds Rhinos), Joe Coyd, Lewis King (London Roosters), Jack Brown (North Queensland)