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Why today is a huge day for the future of rugby league

It won’t have escaped your notice that the next Rugby League World Cup is in huge jeopardy this week.

This is because it was announced on Monday that France could no longer host the tournament meaning there is a huge question mark over where and when it will be held.

Today is a huge day in answering that question.

This is because the Board of International Rugby League, with representatives from the RFL appearing, is set to discuss next steps today.

IRL chair Troy Grant said: “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.

“Exciting international content for 2023 and 2024, in addition to the recent historic Tongan tour to England, will be announced publicly shortly, which will be the front end of our much needed and highly anticipated calendar.”

He also said:

It’s difficult to express how disappointed I am with this news.

“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.

“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.

“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.

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

With international sport the bedrock of growing a game to a wider audience, answering the questions over the World Cup and the sport’s wider international future is key.

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