Brexit restrictions could hinder French development, says leading agent – ​​ | Rugby League Express

The feel-good factor for the French Rugby League is in danger of disappearing if players’ movement restrictions are not lifted, according to a broker of leading players.

Last week’s announcement of a Rugby League World Cup in France in 2025, following the appearance of the Catalans Dragons’ Super League Grand Final and promotion to the top flight for Toulouse Olympique, have set the French game on a high. But new statements since Brexit threaten to derail the progress currently being made.

That is the view of Graeme Taylor, who represents many of the top names in the game, including a growing number of French players since he recently moved to live near Perpignan.

“It’s a time bomb for the French game,” Taylor told League Express.

“Unless someone changes the rules, the number of up-and-coming young French talent will dwindle and the game will starve in France, especially with only two full-time professional teams in the country as they can only hire so many players at a young age.”

Taylor explained that since Brexit and the end of freedom of movement in Europe, players now need a visa to play in the UK.

He added: “It’s not a problem for existing French players in the English leagues, but any youngster who wants to try themselves in the Super League will find it impossible to get a visa.

“You have to play at Elite level and the French league is not structured like that. Or you have to sign a contract as an Australian or New Zealand player would need to qualify for the UK visa, so the road for ambitious young French players to play in the Super League in the UK is effectively closed. ”

Taylor is the caretaker manager of Huddersfield Giants star Theo Fages, who moved from Perpignan to Salford at the age of 16 to increase his chances of a career success.

“Under the current rules, Theo should not be allowed to do that now and I know many talented young French players who want to follow his path,” said Taylor.

“Catalans and Toulouse are currently signing as much as they can, but there are many others who have gone as far as they can with their French elite clubs, so we risk losing them at the game.

“That’s not good for the French game or the Rugby League as a whole, especially if you’re hosting the World Cup in 2025.”

Taylor has called on the Rugby Football League to lobby the UK government for help.

He added: “It could be as simple as asking the government to recognize the French Elite One league as an elite sport. Then the problem would disappear if a player played 75 percent of the games in the last two years.

“I don’t want to sound gloomy when all this good news comes out of France, but I am genuinely concerned that this issue threatens the future health of the French game.”

An RFL spokesperson told League Express: “We are fully aware of this issue and we have been discussing it with UKVI (UK Visa and Immigration) authorities for some time since the rules changed with Brexit.”

Taylor added: “I know the RFL is trying to sort things out but time is really of the essence with the World Cup in just three years.

“Every day that goes by we risk losing another Theo Fages to the match just because of the red tape, so it’s a matter of urgency.”

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