France ready to "rejoice and celebrate" when staging 2025 Rugby League World Cup

INTERNATIONAL Rugby League chairman Troy Grant says increasing France’s capacity as one of the sport’s premier nations is crucial - and hosting the 2025 World Cup could possibly be the most important part of that plan.

Launch announcement for the Rugby League World Cup 2025, which will be organized by France with French Prime Minister Jean Castex delivering details.  (Dave Winter/SWpix.com)
Launch announcement for the Rugby League World Cup 2025, which will be organized by France with French Prime Minister Jean Castex delivering details. (Dave Winter/SWpix.com)

France prime minister Jean Castex this morning announced details as the French Rugby League Federation confirmed it will take charge of the competition for the first time since 1972.

It will be the 17th Rugby League World Cup, with the first being held in France in 1954, and comes after initial plans for the tournament to be staged in North America were scrapped.

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It will be the third major sports event to be held in the country in consecutive years, following rugby union's World Cup in 2023 and the Olympics in Paris in 2024.

Grant intimated in March that the IRL wanted to take the competition back to France and he is delighted to be able to see plans come to fruition.

“Rugby league’s place in this grand decade of sporting events is further proof that our sport - one that is enjoyed in almost 60 countries across all five continents, by hundreds of thousands of players and fans - belongs side by side with the world’s most iconic events,” he said.

“Can I express my sincere thanks and gratitude to the France 2025 bid team.

“They have worked tirelessly, professionally and swiftly to achieve the structure and plan that formed the foundation of the 2025 World CUp project.

Rugby League, Launch announcement for the Rugby League World Cup 2025, which will be organized by France, l’Agence nationale de la cohésion des territoires (ANCT), Paris, France - (L-R) Caroline CAYEUX (Présidente de Villes de France), President of the French Rugby League Federation Luc LACOSTE, French Prime Minister Jean CASTEX, French Minister Delegate to the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports Roxana MARACINEANU, Thierry TEBOUL (Directeur Général de l’Afdas), Kamel CHIBLI (Vice-Président de Régions de France) and Claude REVEL (Présidente du GIE France Sport Expertise) unveil The Paul Barrière Trophy (Dave Winter/SWpix.com)

“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.”

The delayed 2021 World Cup, which will be played predominantly in the north of England this autumn, will be the first such tournament to play Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair competitions together but France will take that further by introducing the Youth aspect as well.

With Toulouse Olympique preparing for their maiden Super League campaign next month, joining Catalans Dragons as the top-flight sees two French clubs for the first time in its history, it is hoped this could be a boon for French rugby league.

Grant added: “The International Rugby League will, of course, play a continuing supporting role for France 20925 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 frow 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.

“I would 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 have been supportive, imaginative and truly collaborative.

“The sport and the event could not ask for a better partner. I sincerely thank you prime minister.

“In closing, and on behalf of the international federation, its board of directors, its members and on my personal behalf, the rugby league community wishes you all well for 2022 and, of course, in our joint journey towards 2025.”

Financial concerns prevented the World Cup being hosted in North America for the first time, after it was provisionally awarded the tournament in 2016.

France, where rugby league was infamously banned by the Vichy government during the Second World War, have never won the World Cup but were runners-up in the inaugural event in 1954 and again in 1968.

Castex told the press conference this morning: "Rugby League in France survived the ban by the Vichy government... but the game will be rejoicing and celebrating in 2025."

RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer, who has been a member of the International Rugby League Sub-Committee working on the France bid, said: “I am delighted for Luc Lacoste 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 50 years since France last staged the competition in 1972.

“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.

“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, for joining Luc in promoting this concept – Troy has been an outstanding Chair.

“We have much to anticipate in England this autumn as we prepare to host RLWC2021, following its postponement last year – and can now do so in the knowledge that the World Cup will return to France in 2025 after a 53-year absence.”