Yesterday’s news that hosts France had pulled out of running the 2025 Rugby League World Cup shook the game.
The statement from the tournament organisers was a blow to the sport on the whole but particularly the international game.
It read: “On Monday May 15th 2023, an exceptional Board meeting of France2025 was held to deliberate on the finalization of the economic and financial model for the Rugby League World Cup 2025, whose organization was given to France by the International Rugby League.
“Despite all the work carried out by the Organizing Committee, it hasn’t been possible to fully secure the risk of a deficit.
“Despite the interest shown in this unique sport for all event with 4 competitions in one (Wheelchair, Women’s, Men’s, Youth) and accessible to all thanks to our ticketing rates, and despite the desire shown by several cities across France to host World Cup matches, the Board had to decide to renounce organizing 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 organizing committee at the end of 2022.
“This difficult decision was taken so as not to threaten the robustness of the major international sporting event models that France now wishes to promote.”
Meanwhile the IRL’s own statement on the matter sheds further light on why this decision was made:
“The France 2025 board of directors felt they had no choice after the French Government demanded 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, after additional time and funding provided to the committee by the French Government to that end. ”
The international game is the pinnacle of the sport and that was exemplified last year during the World Cup hosted in England.
Immediately off the back of the English hosted World Cup there were clamours to sort an international calendar, such was the appetite for international rugby league.
That’s what makes the prospect of no World Cup in 2025 so devastating hence the urgency to find new hosts and re-arrange a new competition.
Step forward Australia and New Zealand it seems.
At least that’s what Rugby Pass, a rugby union based media outlet, are reporting with the two southern hemisphere countries the favourites to launch a joint bid.
Not only do they suggest a joint bid, something that New Zealand Rugby League have already announced is a possibility, but Rugby Pass add that it may be delayed until 2026.
This could well make sense given the fact that the previous World Cup was delayed a year anyway, and now with even shorter notice a whole new tournament would need planning.
The IRL will make further comment on Wednesday 17th, which could well shine light on if these reports are true or not.