IRL statement on France 2025 withdrawal

15 May 2023

The board of International Rugby League will convene to consider options for the 2025 World Cup after the France 2025 organising committee was forced to withdraw from hosting the tournament earlier today. 

IRL Chair Troy Grant said the decision was very disappointing.

However, the France 2025 board of directors felt they had no choice after the French government demanded a guarantee for the risk of loss for the event, considering that the conditions initially set to secure the economic viability of the event were not met, after additional time and funding provided to the committee by the French Government to that end.

“It’s difficult to express how disappointed I am with this news," he said. "There’s no secret as to how important the strengthening of France as a rugby league nation is to our global game and central to our strategic plans.

“The RLWC in France in 2025 was always an ambitious project given the unprecedented short lead in time due to the pandemic, however it had the advantage of following and leveraging off the widely acknowledged RLWC2021 success.

“Despite the historically short lead in period, Luc Lacoste and his LOC worked tirelessly and achieved so much in a short time. Luc has brought a renewed zest and interest to French Rugby League during his tenure and the World Cup was planned to be the springboard for further development of the sport in France. 

“The factors that impacted on the bid team’s ability to complete the early structure of the tournament, such as the economic crisis and, in particular, inflationary pressure on host town council budgets, undermined their ability to secure adequate securities for the event to satisfy the government’s strict conditional benchmarks, put forward from the beginning of the process, for the tournament to proceed. 

“The French Government, particularly the Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, supported the bid team financially and granted additional time to meet benchmarks given the interruptions and obstacles that were put in their way that were out of their control.   

“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.” 

The IRL board will now consider other options for RLWC2025 while continuing work to finalise international fixtures for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.  The IRL expects to be able to advise member nations of planned qualifying matches or alternative fixtures after July 2023.  

IRL chair Troy Grant added : “The board meets face to face in July and we will then be able to determine together our next steps forward and consider the other bids we have received for not only 2025, but 2029, 2033 and World Cup 9s events in the future. 

“Exciting international content for 2023 and 2024, in addition to the recent historic Tongan tour to England, will be announced publicly shortly, which will be the front end of our much needed and highly anticipated calendar.”