The World Cup looks set to take place in France in 2025 with full details pertaining to the tournament set to be revealed on Tuesday 11th January in a press conference.
It’ll be the first tournament to be held by a country that wasn’t in the UK or down under since France last hosted the tournament back in 1972.
In the years since they’ve been three internationally held tournaments whilst England and Australia have each hosted three tournaments each with England set for their fourth tournament in 2022.
This will be the third time France have hosted the World Cup having also held the very first World Cup back in 1954 with Great Britain winning the final 16-12 at the expense of the hosts in Paris. In 1972, Great Britain reclaimed the crown this time drawing the final with Australia 10-10 and being awarded the trophy as the highest ranked team during the Round Robin portion of the tournament.
This year it’s been 50 years since that final in Lyon, the last time Great Britain won the World Cup and the last time France hosted the tournament meaning that perhaps England fans should be extra excited for the 2025 World Cup after all the trophy was brought back to these shores the last two times France held the tournament.
However, there’s a much bigger reason why we should look ahead to the 2025 World Cup in France. This is because it’s an opportunity to cement expansion into France.
Over the last two decades, rugby league in France has experienced a resurgence peaking in 2021 with Catalans finishing top of the league and playing in a first Grand Final. Meanwhile, Toulouse’s unbeaten league campaign in the Championship culminated in promotion to Super League leaving us with two French sides in Super League.
Furthermore, the Elite One competition in the country is now home to two-time NRL winner and State of Origin mastermind James Maloney who has already endeared himself to French supporters with the quality he brought to Catalans over the last two years.
Krisnan Inu has also plied his trade in the competition with another former NRL star and ex-Leigh and Huddersfield hooker Nathan Peats also making the switch to France after a proposed move to Salford fell through.
Meanwhile, Catalans continue to attract some huge talent signing 2013 NRL Champion and 2019 State of Origin winner Mitchell Pearce to replace the aforementioned Maloney whilst Dylan Napa and Tyrone May, both NRL winners themselves, have also joined the Dragons ahead of 2022.
All of this shows that French rugby league is on the up after decades of struggle following the second World War. Thus, a World Cup in France is likely to cement this growth, support the Elite One competition and maybe result in more French sides developing so much so they too can push for a place in Super League.
Furthermore, it could provide encouragement to other countries that they too can host a World Cup and develop the sport in their country. In America they’re forming a new league and thus seeing France holding the World Cup gives them something to aspire to as is the case for the game in Ghana with the country taking bold steps alongside the Salford Red Devils and Oxford University to improve the sport in their country with international games already broadcast live on TV in the country.
Yes, England, Australia and New Zealand still dominate the sport with Tonga providing a real playing threat going into 2022 but a World Cup in France is proof that the sport can be developed in other countries helping the game achieve expansion, the very thing the sport needs to take the next step forward in its growth.