11 countries interested in hosting a Rugby League World Cup, confirm International Rugby League board

Ben Olawumi
England Wheelchair World Cup winner Tom Halliwell, James Tedesco of Australia Men's and Kezie Apps of Australia Women

Tom Halliwell OBE (left - England Wheelchair), James Tedesco (centre - Australia men) and Kezie Apps (right - Australia women) with their respective World Cup trophies - Alamy

The International Rugby League board have today revealed that 11 different countries have expressed an interest in hosting at least one World Cup between now and 2030 – but just two want to host the next one.

As confirmed earlier this year, 2026 will see a continuation of the three tournaments – men’s, women’s & wheelchair – all taking place at the same time. That will be in the Southern Hemisphere after France pulled out of hosting it in 2025.

From there onwards though, the World Cups will again be split up, with the women’s to take place in 2028, wheelchair in 2029 and men’s in 2030.

There have been 22 ‘expressions of interest’ across all of those four, with interested parties in Europe, Middle East Africa, Asia Pacific and the Americas.

With women’s sport booming, the tournament with the most interest out of the four is the 2028 Women’s World Cup. Eight countries currently want to host that, with five in the running for the 2029 Wheelchair World Cup & seven for the 2030 Men’s World Cup.

The notable figure is the two interested for 2026 though. Official confirmation will come after November 24 when the pair actually put in their tenders to earn the hosting rights, but you’d imagine it’s between Australia and New Zealand.

Along with Papua New Guinea, that pair both hosted the 2017 edition, which saw the Kangaroos dramatically beat England in the final on home soil.

11 countries interested in hosting a Rugby League World Cup between now and 2030

International Rugby League chief Troy Grant – a New South Wales resident – gave his verdict in today’s press release, believing that the interest in the stand-alone tournaments gives backing to their decision to revert back to that format.

He said: “The IRL Board made the decision in July that future Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair World Cups would be staged as stand-alone events after RLWC2026 and the level of interest in hosting those tournaments confirms that was the right decision.

“The response to the ITT [Invitation to Tender] process also underlines the strategic approach behind the IRL Board’s decision to reduce the size of the World Cup finals in order to cultivate more host countries, which will make rugby league a more global sport and the World Cups more accessible events.

“It is one of the many benefits of the international calendar that the IRL is able to schedule three World Cups in three years to provide more countries with an opportunity to host one or more of the game’s flagship tournaments.”

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