The globalisation of rugby is set to gather pace with reports that the All Blacks are set to face France in the United Arab Emirates next year.
According to Sport360 (and corroborated by various sources since), French rugby president Bernard Laporte was in Dubai last week negotiating his national side’s involvement in a test match in 2018, and it is believed that a memorandum of understanding has been drawn up to confirm that France will play.
Quotes attributed to Qais Al Dhalai, the Secretary General of United Arab Emirates Rugby Federation, have confirmed that France will play, but was unsure of the finer details.
“The match will most probably be in 2018 at The Sevens or it might be at one of the bigger stadiums in Abu Dhabi or even Al Ain.”
“This would the first time in history that UAE has hosted a big game of Fifteens, Sevens of course but the first for Fifteens.”
“Now that the MOU has been signed we will communicate with the other union (to finalise details).”
Laporte also spoke of the confirmation, expressing his keenness to build links between the FFR and the UAEFR:
“One of our objectives in signing this Memorandum of Understanding is to organise games with the French team here in the UAE in the next couple of years” Laporte said.
“We also plan to welcome coaches and referees from the UAE in France at the national centre of in Marcoussis in order to support them to increase their own level. Also welcome some players in France and national team of the UAE.”
The All Blacks’ involvement is less certain, though they are the preferred opposition and plans are being formulated to make that happen. The test would be the first of its kind as no tier one rugby nation has played in the middle east before.
Regardless of whether or not this match does end up happening, New Zealand will be facing France in the relatively near future anyway, with a test in Paris pencilled in for this November.
Make sure to tune into the latest episode of the 16th Man, where we talk to Gordon D’Arcy, discuss the Lions midfield and talk PRO12.
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