Craig Lingard: Batley Bulldogs coach stranded in France without his passport

Craig Lingard
Craig Lingard lost his passport on the plane and has been stuck in France alone

Life in the south of France isn't all fine wine, bright sunshine and delicious food.

Sometimes, it's rain, misery and heavily armed border guards. Just ask Batley Bulldogs head coach Craig Lingard.

Lingard's side went down 34-14 to Toulouse Olympique in their Championship encounter, but that was only half the story.

What should have been a routine trip, has turned out to be a total nightmare for 42-year-old Lingard.

"I left my passport on the outbound flight, I'm stranded in France, I'm practically an illegal immigrant," he told BBC Radio Leeds.

"I know where it is, I tried to go back to the plane when I got to the terminal and realised it was missing but no one spoke English and they sent me back to passport control."

On arriving at the passport gate, Lingard was reminded of just how seriously border security is taken.

"I was confronted with four border patrol officers with guns in the pockets," he said.

"I eventually cleared who I was, I have a photo of my passport on my phone and my driving licence, payment details and booking reference, so they were happy to let me into the country."

However, when he arrived at the airport for the return trip, he was refused access to the plane without the requisite documentation - leaving him stranded as his players flew home.

'It's like National Lampoon's European Vacation'

The city of Toulouse
The city of Toulouse can be a pretty place to visit, but it's been a trip to forget for Craig Lingard

Although Lingard still cannot leave France, he has at least taken the first steps of his journey to return home.

"I have got to the British Embassy, there was one in Toulouse but it's closed, so now I've got to catch a train from Limoges to Paris," he said.

"Then I wait in Paris for my passport to be ready, it'll take 48 hours for it to be ready and I can't book any transport out of the country until I get it."

Lingard added: "I'm time-bound by how quickly they process that documentation, and then when they have arranged that I need to sort out transport.

"It's like National Lampoon's European Vacation."

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