Rugby League World Cup 2025 to be staged in France

The Rugby League World Cup will return to its roots when it is held in France in three years’ time.

By Peter Smith
Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 2:40 pm
The Paul Barriere Trophy is unveiled at today's World Cup announcement in Paris. Picture by Dave Winter/SWpix.com.
The Paul Barriere Trophy is unveiled at today's World Cup announcement in Paris. Picture by Dave Winter/SWpix.com.

The announcement of the 2025 hosts was made in Paris this morning (Tuesday), when Jean Castex, the Prime Minister of France, confirmed government support.

France staged the inaugural World Cup in 1954, but the tournament has not been held there since Great Britain's famous win in 1972.

The 2025 event was provisionally awarded to North America, but those plans were scrapped because of financial concerns.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

French Prime Minister Jean Castex at today's World Cup 2025 announcement in Paris. Picture by Dave Winter/SWpix.com.

The news comes at a time when rugby league in France is enjoying a resurgence, with Toulouse Olympique preparing to join last year’s league leaders and Grand Final runners-up Catalans Dragons in Betfred Super League .

Today’s announcement, which came nine months before the start of the delayed 2021 tournament in England, has been welcomed by the Rugby Football League (RFL).

Chief executive Ralph Rimmer, a member of the International Rugby League [IRL] sub-committee working on the bid, said: “I am delighted for Luc Lacoste [president of the French Rugby League] and the team he has assembled that they have secured the right to host the 2025 Rugby League World Cup.

“It was the imagination and determination of French rugby league pioneers such as Paul Barriere which established our sport’s World Cup in 1954 and it has taken similar qualities to allow this announcement to be made.

“With Rugby League in France enjoying a golden year in 2021, their wheelchair team ranked number one in the world and Toulouse Olympique joining the Catalans Dragons in the forthcoming Betfred Super League season, this is another major boost to rugby league in Europe and the northern hemisphere. “

Rimmer added: “Working with Luc and his team over recent months has been a pleasure.

“Along the way they also have forged strong partnerships with - and won the confidence of - the French national and regional governments.

“They are a very focused and impressive unit.

“I would also like to pay tribute to Troy Grant, the IRL chair[man], for joining Luc in promoting this concept.

“Troy has been an outstanding chair.”

Grant insisted rugby league’s global tournament “belongs side by side with the world’s most iconic events” and insisted it will be a success in France.

The sport has a relatively low profile across the Channel, but Grant pledged: “We have total confidence in France to organise an unforgettable World Cup that will break new boundaries.

“Truly, 2025 will be a World Cup for all as we introduce, in the glorious historic traditions of the French republic, equality across all four events: Men’s, Women’s, Wheelchair and Youth World Cups all played simultaneously.

“Forty French towns and cities will combine to host 64 national teams and 128 matches which will be accessible to all thanks to the event’s ticketing policy allowing each venue to generate the best possible atmosphere.”

Grant stressed: “I would also like to place on record our thanks to the unfailing support of the French government who have - at every step over the past nine months through negotiations and planning - been supportive, imaginative and truly collaborative.

“The sport and the event could not ask for a better partner.

“The International Rugby League will, of course, play a continuing supporting role for France 2025 on the road to the event and, as we look forward to playing an active role in that journey, particularly using 2025 as the catalyst to grow rugby league both in new territories and throughout our current membership.

“Seeing France increase its own capacity as one of the sport’s premier nations is a core strategic objective for rugby league and this event is just one part of that longer-term project yet possibly the most important one.”

Castex hailed France as "a land of major sporting events, which represent a tremendous asset for economic appeal and social cohesion in our regions".

He said: "Hosting of the Rugby Union World Cup in 2023 and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024 are spearheads of this policy, carried out jointly by the state and communities.

"The Rugby League World Cup, which will be organised in 2025 by France, is a great opportunity for the many regions and cities that wish

to engage in this dynamic and I support it wholeheartedly."

Lacoste predicted the tournament will be a "huge success".

He said: "With this announcement of the return of the Rugby League World Cup to its homeland of France, it is wonderful news that is shaping up today for our sport, the French Rugby League Federation and especially for the clubs, managers, members and volunteers.

"We are extremely proud for them to see this magnificent event being launched today. First and foremost, it belongs to them."

Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. You'll enjoy unlimited access to the latest on Leeds United, Leeds Rhinos, Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Trinity, as well as other West Yorkshire rugby league clubs. With our sports digital subscription, you'll also see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times and get exclusive content. Click here to subscribe.