The 2025 Rugby League World Cup will not be held in France, it has been confirmed.
Tournament organisers have cited its inability to meet financial guarantees required by the French government.
It is the second time the host nation for 2025 has pulled out, with it previously being awarded to North America back in 2016 before it was scrapped due to financial concerns two years later.
France’s withdrawal as hosts has left the International Rugby League, the international game’s governing body, considering contingency options in order for the World Cup to continue.
It’s extremely unlikely that England, who hosted the World Cup last autumn, is an option due to it being unfeasible given the short notice and level of finance required, according to PA. The obvious option for staging the tournament is Australia and New Zealand.
IRL chair Troy Grant said: “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.”
RFL chairman Simon Johnson, who is also an IRL board member, said: “After the success of last autumn’s Rugby League World Cup in England, it is imperative that all in the sport now work with International Rugby League to rebuild the international calendar, for men’s, women’s and wheelchair rugby league.
“We are excited about the prospect of England men hosting Tonga in a three-test series this autumn, with announcements to follow soon of fixtures for our women’s and wheelchair teams, and discussions already advanced regarding another home series in 2024.”
The press release in full from France 2025 Rugby League World Cup organisers
A press release from the RLWC2025 organisers read: “On Monday, May 15, an exceptional Board meeting of France2025 was held to deliberate on the finalisation of the economic and financial model for the Rugby League World Cup 2025, whose organisation was given to France by the International Rugby League.
“Despite all the work carried out by the organising committee, it hasn’t been possible to fully secure the risk of a deficit.
“Despite the interest shown in this unique sport for all events with four 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 organising 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 organising 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. In addition, the State will reinforce the support it provides to the XIII rugby development plan supported by the Federation, to ensure this sport has a better visibility and to make it shine again in France.
“The France2025 organising committee would like to thank all those who, in France and throughout the world, believed in this unprecedented project, the bearer of inclusive and societal values, as close as possible to the territories and the population, and who have resolutely committed themselves to its side: mayors, members of parliament, companies in the sports business, public and private partners, high level sportsmen and sportswomen in all sports.”