Wheelchair Rugby League: England upset world champions France in first Test

England wheelchair rugby league team
England's win avenged a 38-34 defeat by France in the 2017 World Cup final

England's wheelchair rugby league side caused a major shock by inflicting a first-ever home defeat on reigning world champions France in Apt.

Mark Roughsedge's side won the first of two Tests 31-25 after surging into the lead with six tries.

Seb Bechara scored twice, with the other tries coming from Nathan Collins, Tom Halliwell, captain Jack Brown and debutant Lewis King.

The two teams will meet again in Toulon on Sunday.

"That was a tough Test match in a hot, humid, hostile environment," said Roughsedge, who has been involved in the England set-up for seven years after helping establish Kent as a wheelchair rugby league stronghold.

"I was pleased with how the players executed the plan and stayed focused for long periods. There were parts of the game that were as good as I have seen. Everyone played their part, and our off-field unit was exceptional."

England team's included five players from Leeds Rhinos, one each from Halifax and Catalans Dragons, and two from the Argonauts club in Kent

And after trailing to a drop goal early on, they took control of the game as Rhinos team-mates Collins and Halliwell scored, before France-based Bechara grabbed the first of his double.

They stretched their lead to 31-13 and hung onto their lead despite a ferocious late fightback by the home side.

"This is a first step, a significant one, on a long journey and we are just at the beginning. Sunday is sure to be a tough test and we will be working hard to rehab the players and enable them to be ready," Roughsedge added.

The 2021 World Cup will be played in England when the wheelchair competition will be played alongside men's and women's tournaments.

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