France Test to prepare Amazonas for World Cup crowds
In 2019 Brazil and France set a record TV audience of 59 million viewers for a women’s football match. Inspired by that feat, both nations are set to go head-to-head before this year’s Rugby League World Cup.
While Brazil v France may not have been a Rugby League World Cup fixture pulled out of the hat by Prince Harry at the official draw, the two countries have organised a warm-up game on October 27.
Boasting a combined population of almost 300 million, the noted sporting nations will meet at Cougar Park, Keighley, UK.
The high-stakes friendly will be the first chance the majority of the outside world has to see coach Paul Grundy’s history-making Brazil Amazonas squad – five days before they open the women’s World Cup against host England.
“Playing France is a great addition to our already-scheduled Cup matches against England, Papua New Guinea and Canada,” Brasil Rugby League chief operating officer Hugo Froes said.
“We have landed in different pools for the tournament itself, but France is a game we were always eager to play.
“Brazil has received limited international opportunities for our women since beating Argentina 48-0 in 2018, mainly due to COVID and our geographic location, but domestic competitions have continued.
“We’re excited to unveil our squad before the world’s eyes and excited for the athletes themselves to go on this unprecedented journey to England, experience the fanfare and be part of something ground-breaking.”
Keighley was favoured as the venue against France as Keighley Cougars co-owner Kaue Garcia is Brazilian – one of only a handful of Brazilians in the rugby league’s professional levels.
Keighley is also conveniently located just a 40-minute drive outside Brazil’s World Cup home base of Leeds.
In a fitting coincidence, Brazil’s leading female club, Melina, is guided by French brothers Michel and Alain Leplus.
World Cup officials have already predicted that the Brazil v England game at Leeds Headingley Stadium on November 1 will break all northern hemisphere records for attendance at a women’s rugby league game.
The Amazonas will follow up with a second pool match against much-improved PNG at Hull on November 5, before facing Canada back in Leeds on November 9 in a clash that could decide semi-final positions.
Photo: Brazil Amazonas player Barbara Leal (Tribus Studio)