The four countries to have shown interest in hosting the 2025 World Cup

Josh McAllister
2025 Rugby League World Cup, SWPix

PHOTO: Will Palmer /

Four countries have expressed interest in hosting the 2025 World Cup following France’s withdrawal according to International Rugby League chairman Troy Grant.

Qatar has emerged as a surprise contender after tournament organisers in France confirmed their withdrawal earlier this week due to financial concerns.

IRL chief Grant described the decision as “very disappointing” and has since spoken about future plans for the 17th Rugby League World Cup.

New Zealand Rugby League have publicly expressed their desire in co-hosting the tournament alongside Australia. The Kiwis hosted games at the 2017 World Cup Down Under in Wellington, Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch.

Qatar, which does not have a team or a world ranking, and has never played an international match, is another interested party, having hosted last year’s FIFA World Cup. 

“We have received expressions of interest from New Zealand, Fiji, South Africa and Qatar already,” Grant told media on Wednesday.

“We are yet to make any assessments in regarded to their viability, I’m just being honest about who has reached out.

“It gives me comfort that there is interest in our sport and our World Cup. How real or viable any or all of those options are, we’re yet to make any of those assessments.”

The Qatari interest, which Grant said comprises two approaches combining state and public funding, continues the nation’s interest in muscling in on the global sporting landscape following a successful football World Cup last year.

However, the IRL will be under much-pressure to make a decision in the near-future given the limited timeframe, with even the possibility of complete cancellation or postponement.

Grant also highlighted concerns around the current unique format, which sees the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments take place at the same time, while France were also set to bring together a youth World Cup for the first time ever.

Troy Grant: We understand that we need to move quickly

“We understand that we need to move quickly,” added Grant. “It will certainly have a big bearing on where the tournament is in 2025, if it proceeds.

“There is a potential option to move out of this cycle and create a new cycle, and that will also be a discussion point for the board in June and July.

“We are not wedded to anything, to be honest. The experience of England last year was that the uniqueness of our offering, with the three World Cups being run at the same time, was a massive point of difference.

“It is a massive selling point so to abandon that strategy would be disappointing, but we have to be practical in any decisions we make going forward.

“It gets us to rethink how we do everything going forward. There’s a unique opportunity that this adversity presents, and I think we should take that opportunity.”

READ NEXT: Sport still has a bright future in France, insists European Rugby League chief

FOLLOW: Keep up with all the latest on the Love Rugby League mobile app