It’s less than a month since the 2021 World Cup finished, but qualifying for the next tournament in 2025 is well underway.
Nine nations have already sealed their places in the 16-team men’s tournament in France, including the hosts, plus the eight quarter-finalists from the most recent edition.
Champions Australia and finalists Samoa are joined by semi-finalists England and New Zealand, as well as Fiji, Lebanon, Tonga and Papua New Guinea.
There are seven places still up for grabs, to be fought for by 20 remaining countries.
- United States
Two of the seven places will go to teams from the Americas, with Brazil having won through the recent South Americas Championship to reach this decisive stage against the North American and Caribbean sides.
Jamaica made their World Cup debut this year, while USA have previously featured in two World Cups – in 2013 and 2017.
- Czech Republic
There are only two European nations confirmed for 2025 so far, but there is guaranteed to be at least another four.
That will be made up of the two highest ranked teams outside of France and England from the 2023 European Championship, which will include Ireland, Italy, Scotland, Serbia, Spain and Wales.
The next two placed teams will then go in to a further play-off, to be held in 2024, with the two group winners from European Championship B. That competition will be held in 2023 in two groups – Greece, Norway and Ukraine in one, and Czech Republic, Germany and Netherlands in another.
Czech Republic and Netherlands have already knocked out Malta and Turkey to get to this stage.
There is still an outside possibility that Russia will be included in this process. Their activity is currently suspended due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, and the International Rugby League said a decision on their participation will be made by the end of the year.
- South Africa
The 2023 Middle East Africa Cup will feature the above three sides plus Lebanon, who have already qualified for the 2025 World Cup courtesy of their quarter-final appearance in this year’s tournament.
The highest ranked side outside of Lebanon will go on to play Cook Islands in an inter-regional repechage match in 2024.
Nigeria and Ghana earned their spot at the MEA Cup in 2023 by beating Kenya and Cameroon recently in the 2022 version.
- Cook Islands
Due to the success of their Pacific rivals, as mentioned above, Cook Islands will instead attempt to qualify by playing in an inter-regional repechage match against the winners of the African tournament.
First ever women’s qualifying competition
For the first time, the Women’s World Cup will hold a qualifying competition as it grows to 16 teams for 2025.
The eight participation teams from the 2021 tournament automatically qualify – Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cook Islands, England, France, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
There are 20 other countries set to battle it out for the remaining eight spots.
With six berths for Asia-Pacific teams in the women’s tournament, these three will battle out in 2024 for two places.
There are four spots available for European teams, with the above eight nations expected to play in two groups of four in 2023, with the two highest placed finishers from each group qualifying for the 2025 World Cup.
There is already guaranteed to be two Americas teams in the Women’s World Cup, thanks to Brazil and Canada; subject to them satisfying the appropriate guidelines set by the International Rugby League.
One of the above three will join them.
- South Africa
This will be a women’s rugby league World Cup first in 2025, as a team from the Middle East or Africa will participate for the first time.
Their qualifying tournament in 2024 will comprise of two groups of three, with the two winners then playing each other to earn the spot.
Wheelchair World Cup 2025 qualifying
For the Wheelchair World Cup in 2025, there will be an expression of interest and invitation process to determine the 16 finalists.
They will be selected by the end of 2024.