Les Bleus set for historic Test

Tue, 04 Jun 2013 20:00
France-anthem France-general Alisonataumalolotonga
Venue for Bok clash yet to be confirmed

Le Havre will host its first ever Rugby Union Test match when France play Tonga on November 16, the French Rugby Federation announced on Tuesday.

Le Havre - located in the Normandy region in the northwest of France - is not a rugby union hotbed - but the port city's stadium, which was built for its football team and holds a capacity of 25,000, has hosted two rugby matches previously, both last year.

"The stadium was inaugurated in 2012 and has already welcomed a football international [the friendly between France and Uruguay last August] and two rugby games (Stade Francais against Grenoble in the European Challenge Cup and the French Barbarians against Japan)," said the FFR in a statement.

France, who will be bidding to avenge their surprise defeat by the Tongans in the 2011 World Cup pool match, are also due to play reigning world champions New Zealand on November 9 and two-time World Cup winners South Africa on November 23.

As yet, though, it is not certain where the matches will take place as the FFR are negotiating with the Stade de France authorities over a new tenancy agreement as their initial 15-year deal ends this month.

The FFR are endeavouring to obtain better conditions, as they complained on several occasions during the present lease that they felt the consortium running the stadium had taken advantage of them.

Marseille's Velodrome Stadium has proved a popular alternative down the years, usually hosting one of the November Tests.