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France gives up hosting rights to 2025 Rugby League World Cup

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France gives up hosting rights to 2025 Rugby League World Cup
France has pulled out of its role as host of the 2025 Rugby League World Cup for financial reasons, leaving the event hanging just over two years out from delivery.

According to a statement from the governing body for the sport, International Rugby League (IRL), the French Government had sought “a guarantee for the risk of loss for the event, considering that the conditions initially set to secure the economic viability of the event were not met”.

Another statement posted on behalf of the French event in 2025 on the IRL website confirms “it hasn’t been possible to fully secure the risk of a deficit” from hosting the four tournaments which make up the event.

“It’s difficult to express how disappointed I am with this news,” said IRL chair Troy Grant.

“There’s no secret as to how important the strengthening of France as a rugby league nation is to our global game and central to our strategic plans.

“The Rugby League World Cup in France in 2025 was always an ambitious project given the unprecedented short lead in time due to the pandemic, however it had the advantage of following and leveraging off the widely acknowledged RLWC2021 success.”

France was awarded the hosting rights for the Rugby League event at the start of 2022. In contrast, France has been locked in to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup since November 2017, giving them almost two years extra lead time.

“Despite the historically short lead in period, Luc Lacoste and his LOC worked tirelessly and achieved so much in a short time,” said Grant.

“Luc has brought a renewed zest and interest to French Rugby League during his tenure and the World Cup was planned to be the springboard for further development of the sport in France.

“The factors that impacted on the bid team’s ability to complete the early structure of the tournament, such as the economic crisis and, in particular, inflationary pressure on host town council budgets, undermined their ability to secure adequate securities for the event to satisfy the government’s strict conditional benchmarks, put forward from the beginning of the process, for the tournament to proceed.

“The French government, particularly the Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, supported the bid team financially and granted additional time to meet benchmarks given the interruptions and obstacles that were put in their way that were out of their control.

“I respect the French Government’s decision amid the challenges they are facing but I can’t hide my disappointment, that I conveyed clearly to them in person,” he said.

The International Rugby League body will meet in July to discuss the 2025 event.

“The board meets face to face in July and we will then be able to determine together our next steps forward and consider the other bids we have received for not only 2025, but 2029, 2033 and World Cup 9s events in the future,” said Grant.

The withdrawal from hosting the tournament, which would have seen 16 countries compete in each of the men’s and women’s events, in addition to wheelchair and youth events, comes as France gears up to host two other major international sporting events within the next two years – alongside staging the Rugby World Cup, playing the union code, in September and October this year, Paris will host the Summer Olympics next year.

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