France gained revenge for their defeat in last year’s Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup Final with a 43-34 win over England on Sunday.
Tom Coyd’s side were aiming to follow the men’s and women’s teams’ victories in the running game at Headingley on Saturday, over Tonga and Wales respectively, as the 2023 Rugby League season ended with an international triple header in Leeds.
But they were unable to follow that up at the First Direct Arena as France went some way towards avenging the 28-24 defeat in the World Cup decider nearly 12 months ago at Manchester Central, in this clash at the First Direct Arena.
The founders of wheelchair rugby league returned to the other side of the Pennines and made their point to a noisy crowd of 2,311, with Jeremy Bourson named player of the match for scoring three of their tries in the win.
The visitors were firmly in control at half time after establishing a 30-12 lead and withstood a stirring fightback from England to secure victory.
Along with Bourson’s treble, Damien Dore, Lionel Alazard, Yann Verdi all crossed for one apiece. Alazard landed eight goals and Verdi one as well, while Florian Guttadoro kicked a drop goal.
England’s response came through two tries from Lewis King, and one each for Rob Hawkins, Joe Coyd, Nathan Collins and Tom Halliwell. Collins added four goals, with Coyd getting one as well.
France’s victory saw them take the Fassolette-Kielty Trophy, which is awarded to the winners of every France-England fixture in tribute to Robert Fassolette and Malcolm Kielty MBE, the two key figures in establishing wheelchair rugby league on either side of the Channel.
England have a chance to make up for that defeat to France when they travel to face their old rivals at the Palais des Sports in Marseille on Saturday, November 25 (2pm UK time kick-off).
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