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France to host USA

France will host the USA Tomahawks in a historic Rugby League World Cup warm-up match.
France to host USA

France will host the USA Tomahawks in a historic Rugby League World Cup warm-up match.
The landmark game, which has been sanctioned by the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) and RLWC2013, will give both countries a final opportunity to tweak their World Cup squads ahead of the game’s showpiece event.
The match is slated to be played in Toulouse on October 18, and follows successful negotiations between Federation Francaise de Rugby a X111 and the American National Rugby League to lock it into their respective pre-World Cup schedules.
The contest will create history as it will mark the first time the USA and France have faced each other in Rugby League.  It will also be the Tomahawks’ fourth international hit-out in as many months as they prepare to make their Rugby League World Cup debut.
The USA is scheduled to play Canada this summer in the Colonial Cup series.  The opening game of that series will be played in Toronto, Ontario on July 6, the second match will be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 24, with the teams returning to Toronto on September 21 for the series finale.
At that point, the USA national team’s coaching staff will whittle down the Tomahawks’ Elite Player Pool to the 24-man squad for RLWC2013.
And for three players likely to be on the Tomahawks’ roster, it’ll be a return to familiar territory.
Mark Cantoni and Mark Offerdahl have both plied their trade in a part of the world renowned for its fine wine, world class cuisine and sophisticated culture, not to mention its proud Rugby League history since hosting the very first Rugby League World Cup in 1954.
Both have played in the French Elite 1 League - Cantoni with Pia, while Offerdahl has been at Carcassonne for the past two seasons.
Offerdahl has been playing alongside many Frenchmen who represented Les Chanticleers last season and he’s expecting to see them again in their national team colors come October.
“I think they will be very competitive and a huge test for the Tomahawks,” said Offerdahl.  “The majority of their team are players from Super League with only a few from the domestic comp, so you could imagine it will be hard.”
His sentiments are echoed by Cantoni, who expects the French to step up to the plate in front of their home crowd.
“Yeah, I think the French team will be quite competitive,” said Cantoni.  “I don't think they will probably trouble the big three nations, but with a couple of home games I think they will go well.”
And like Offerdahl, Cantoni has played alongside guys who are now on Les Tricolores’ roster.
“A former team mate of mine at Pia, Clement Soubreyas, has made his way into the French team and won the Grand Final with Pia this year,” he added.
“I think the lead up match against the French will be vital to try and get some combinations and prepare the [USA] side for what to expect in the following pool games.  Also it will be a great experience for the team and staff to play a test match against France in France.”
Ryan McGoldrick, a third likely Tomahawk, is also very familiar with France, especially the southern regions, after an eight-year career in the European Super League with Castleford, Hull FC and now Salford City Reds that has seen him face the Catalans Dragons many times on their home soil.
The USA is 5-7 all-time against European opposition having played against Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy over the years, but France will represent the highest ranked European team the Tomahawks have faced when the two square off in Toulouse.
The French are currently ranked #4 on the RLIF world rankings with the USA checking in at #10, its highest ever ranking.
USA TOMAHAWKS RLWC2013 schedule:
Game 1 v Cook Islands (Bristol, Oct 30)
Game 2 v Wales (Wrexham, Nov 3)
Game 3 v Scotland (Salford City, Nov 7)

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