Cook Islands learn 2025 World Cup fate as two Americas places guaranteed

James Gordon
Cook Islands learn 2025 World Cup fate

The men’s 2025 Rugby League World Cup will feature six teams from Asia-Pacific, six from Europe, two from the Americas and one from Middle East Africa, organisers have confirmed.

The final place will be decided by an inter-regional repechage between Cook Islands and the winner of the 2023 Middle East Africa Cup, which will be contested by Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.

The Kukis were the only Pacific nation not to reach the quarter-finals of the 2021 World Cup, and therefore guarantee entry for 2025.

It was the third time they had featured at the World Cup, having previously qualified in 2000 and 2013, though they have exited at the group stage on each occasion.

Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga have already booked their place in France in three years time.

Hosts France and England are the only confirmed European nations to date, while Lebanon will be the automatic Middle East Africa representative.

The two Americas qualifiers will come from the 2023 Americas Championship, competed by Brazil, Canada, Jamica and USA. Brazil successfully navigated the South Americas Championship at the weekend to reach the qualifying tournament, defeating Chile and Colombia.

The four remaining European spots will be decided via the European Championships, with exact details to be confirmed.

There are eight teams, including England and France, due to feature in the 2023 European Championship – with Ireland, Italy, Scotland, Serbia, Spain and Wales making up the competition.

It is expected that the top two nations outside of England and France will qualify for the 2025 World Cup, with the next two ranked teams going through to the Europe repechage in 2024.

In that, they will be joined by the two group winners from the 2023 European Championship B, which comprises of Greece, Norway and Ukraine in one group, and Czech Republic, Germany and the Netherlands in the other.

Women’s 2025 Rugby League World Cup

All eight competing Women’s teams at the recently concluded World Cup – Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cook Islands, England, France, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea – automatically qualify for France 2025.

Up to 19 nations will be involved in World Cup qualifying matches for the remaining eight Women’s berths in France – the first time a qualifying process has been in place for Women’s teams.

An expression of interest and invitation process will be used to determine the Wheelchair finalists at France 2025.

Looking forward to 2025 World Cup

International Rugby League chair Troy Grant said: “I would like to congratulate the Australian Kangaroos, Australian Jillaroos and England Wheelchair teams for winning their World Cup finals.

Despite the postponement caused by COVID, and other challenges, the World Cup in England was the biggest, best, and most inclusive yet, as rugby league was showcased in the most sensational fashion.

“We now look forward to France 2025 and during the next three years there will be enormous opportunities to continue the growth of international rugby league, with qualifying tournaments in each region of the globe.

“For the first time there will be a Women’s qualifying process, with teams from the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe and Middle East Africa playing off in regional tournaments for berths at France 2025.

“The Men’s World Cup also has a meaningful and clearly defined qualifying path, with 20 nations involved in regional tournaments to determine the seven remaining berths for France 2025.

“After the difficulties of the past few years due to COVID and travel restrictions, the opportunities for international rugby league have never been greater as we prepare for the biggest and boldest World Cup yet in France in 2025.”

Nearly 30 million tuned in to World Cup coverage on BBC