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Patrick Pedrazzani, vice-president of the French RL Federation (FFR XIII), and former Super League referee Thierry Alibert will cycle alongside RL Hall of Fame inductee Adrian Morley, ex-Great Britain three-quarter Nathan McAvoy and 14 other riders on the trans-European adventure in June.
Starting from the wild Atlantic coast at Biarritz, participants will ride 500 miles (800 km) across France over six days on a spectacular route that visits some of the country’s rugby league hotbeds, including Saint-Gaudens, Toulouse, Carcassonne, Pia and Perpignan before finishing on the Mediterranean beach at Canet-en-Roussillon.
A junior international, Patrick played for Villeneuve for more than 10 years before taking up a successful coaching career with France U-21s, Carcassonne, Montpellier, Toulouse Spacers and the France national team. He was named France’s coach of the year in 2000 after leading Toulouse Spacers to the French title.
Now retired, Patrick was also France’s National Technical Director from 2009 to 2016.
Toulouse-born Thierry was a member of Super League’s full-time panel of referees between 2008 and 2013 and officiated at three RL World Cups in 2000, 2008 and 2013. He also refereed the 2011 World Club Challenge, Wigan Warriors v St George-Illawarra.
He moved back to France in November 2013 to become Head of Referees with FFR XIII, a role he fulfilled until 2016 when he returned to his previous career as a telecommunications engineer.
Chris Rostron, the Head of Rugby League Cares, said: “One of the aims of the event is to strengthen the bond between RL Cares and rugby league in France and the presence of Patrick and Thierry will help us achieve our objective.
“After the tremendous success of last year’s Empire State 500, we wanted to take the event on the road again. Celebrating rugby league in France seemed like the perfect fit, as well as offering an extreme challenge and another opportunity to build on the great relationships we have with our friends and colleagues in the region.”
Patrick Pedrazzani said: “When the opportunity to join le Tour de Rugby League Cares arose, I could not, on behalf of the FFR XIII, and its President Luc Lacoste, not associate myself with such a noble cause.
“My involvement aims to make the French public aware of physical, but also psychological and social issues, which high-level sport can lead to.
“We carry out within the FFR XIII, actions, under the name of VITA XIII, to promote health for sport and through sport. These are practices for occasional athletes, parents, friends, elders, supporters. The ride will allow us to talk about them to our audiences.
“On the other hand, why not create within the Rugby League Cares association, a French branch, which would aim for the same objectives?
“In addition, cycling 800km and almost 11,000m in altitude in six days remains a real sporting challenge for the very old player that I am!
“Finally, if this magnificent experience can help people talk about the 2025 World Cup which will take place in France, I will be all the more satisfied.”
Thierry Alibert said: “I have followed previous RL Cares rides with interest from here in France and have always fanied being involved and in helping the charity fundraise.
“I’ve also been in awe of the challenges undertaken by RL Cared trustee Kevin Sinfield on behalf of Rob Burrow.
“When I learnt that RL Cares were coming to France this year, I signed up without any hesitation.
“Since calling time on my sports career, I have cycled a lot and entered several events including l’Arriègeoise and La Jalabert. I’ve also climbed most of the Pyrenees passes (Le Tourmalet, l’Aspin, Luz Ardiden, Peyresourde).
“It will be a great adventure and I’m really looking forward to it. I hope people with support the charity by helping me give something back to a sport that has given me a lot.”
All the funds raised on le Tour de Rugby League Cares will enable the charity to continue making a positive difference to the lives of people in communities wherever the sport is played.
RL Cares is an independent charity that has responsibility for delivering player welfare services to Super League and Championships players both in the UK and in France. The charity also delivers wellness and wellbeing programmes to people of all ages and backgrounds, as well as championing the sport’s great heritage.
Please support our work by sponsoring one of our amazing riders via their Justgiving page. Every donation, no matter how small, helps us make a difference.