Two years after being appointed Director of Rugby of the French Rugby League Federation, Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson witnessed the French team's first international win under his watch.
Robinson sat alongside coach Laurent Frayssinous as France started off their 2022 Rugby League World Cup with a dominant 34-12 win over Greece earlier this morning.
France captain Benjamin Garcia spoke to nrl.com senior reporter Brad Walter about Robinson's impact on the team:
“Trent is one of the best coaches in the world so when he talks everyone just listens – about everything," Garcia said.
"He knows French culture and he speaks French, so he is here because he wants to be here, and I think it is a big boost for us. It is an honour to have him with us.”
Robinson has roots in the French game, beginning his coaching journey with the French Rugby League team Toulouse Olympique in 2005.
He was also the head coach of the Catalans Dragons from 2011-2012 before moving to the Sydney Roosters in 2013 and winning his first NRL premiership.
Speaking to Fox League and nrl.com after the game, Trent was highly optimistic about the future of French Rugby as they build towards the 2025 RLWC to be held in France:
“There's a lot of guys in their mid-20s there, a couple of really young guys that are in our squad, that are 19, 20 as well. There's some future there you know with Toulouse playing in the Super League this year and Catalans," he said.
“What we're trying to do is create our own sort of French team identity and create something that's quite special leading up to the World Cup, that they feel like they're playing for their country and that this is their home.
“We're working hard on that, and the Federation is working hard, we've had a good camp so far and all we can do is lay down some really good performances in this World Cup.”
Asked what he wants to achieve between this World Cup and the 2025 World Cup in France, Robinson said a plan was in place.
“There's a couple of things on the field. We want to give opportunities to the players, we want to play some more tests, we want to get more experience, especially for the French playmakers to make decisions more often, we want to get that done," he said.
“And then there's some things we want to do in the French competition. The television is very important for us, it is for every sport, and we need to play more rugby league on television in France, and leading up to the world cup, that would be an objective.”
This is the first World Cup where the entire French team has been made up of players contracted either with Catalans, Toulouse, or another Super League club.
Coach Laurent Frayssinous also spoke very highly of Trent's long-term vision for French Rugby:
“Trent Robinson has come for this World Cup, but he said ‘I am not coming for one shot, I am coming for the future. I am coming for four years', so he is not stopping,” Frayssinous said.
“Trent is passionate about France, we all know that, so it is not about Trent Robinson coming for the 2021 World Cup, it is about long term.
France currently sits in second place in their World Cup group and will face their biggest test yet in home-team England at 3:00 am on Sunday 23rd October.