France withdraw from hosting 2025 Rugby League World Cup over financial concerns | Rugby League News

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France withdraw from hosting 2025 Rugby League World Cup for financial reasons; IRL chief Troy Grant “very disappointed” by the decision; Australia and New Zealand could be alternative options as hosts; the 2021 World Cup was held in England

Last Updated: 15/05/23 5:26pm

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Josh Addo-Carr and James Tedesco celebrate Australia men’s success at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup

The future of international rugby league has been thrown into crisis after France officially withdrew from hosting the 2025 World Cup.

IRL chief Troy Grant described as “very disappointing” the decision by the France 2025 organising committee, which said it could not deliver financial guarantees demanded by the French government.

Grant said: “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.

“Despite our focus having been on France, we will now accelerate our consideration of other contingency options.”

Organisers of the World Cup said: “Despite all the work carried out by the organising committee, it hasn’t been possible to fully secure the risk of a deficit.

“Despite the interest shown in this unique sport… the board had to decide to renounce organising this major international competition, which the International Rugby League had entrusted to France.

“The conditions of financial viability initially defined by the state to support the project, set in January 2022, were not fully met, despite the search for solutions and the additional three months granted by the state to the organising committee at the end of 2022.”

The IRL will meet to discuss contingency plans, with Australia and New Zealand potential alternative hosts.

England hosted the 2021 World Cup, which was postponed for 12 months due to Covid-19, with Australia winning the men’s and women’s tournaments and the home nation triumphing in the wheelchair event.

Australia also triumphed in the women's event at the 2021 World Cup

Australia also triumphed in the women’s event at the 2021 World Cup

Grant said: “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 RLWC 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.

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

RFL chairman Simon Johnson, who is also an IRL board member, said: “After the success of last autumn’s Rugby League World Cup in England, it is imperative that all in the sport now work with International Rugby League to rebuild the international calendar, for men’s, women’s and wheelchair rugby league.

“We are excited about the prospect of England men hosting Tonga in a three-Test series this autumn, with announcements to follow soon of fixtures for our women’s and wheelchair teams, and discussions already advanced regarding another home series in 2024.”


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