France has been confirmed as the host nation of the 2025 Rugby League World Cup.
France will also be hosting the Rugby Union World Cup in 2023 and the Olympics and Paralympics in 2024.
The hosting rights agreement was signed by Troy Grant, president of the International Rugby League (IRL), and managing director of France 2025, Michel Wiener.
This will be the 17th edition of the Rugby League World Cup.
France has a rich history associated with the World Cup, with the country being the host of the very first Rugby League World Cup in 1954.
This will be the third time that it has hosted the event, having also hosted it in 1972.
The tournament has grown in leaps and bounds from the inaugural event in 1954, when only four teams participated.
Exponential growth of rugby league internationally
The 2025 tournament will host four versions of the event, with the men’s and women’s events also joined by the wheelchair and youth-level teams.
There will be over 40 cities involved in the hosting of the tournament.
There has been a steady growth in the number of competing teams over the past 15 years, from 10 in 2008 up to an expected number of 16 in the 2025 Rugby League World Cup.
Additionally, the women’s, wheelchair and youth tournaments have seen an increase in teams taking part.
This World Cup has a huge significance for French rugby league as it was a Frenchman, Paul Barrière, who first dreamt up the idea of a Rugby League World Cup.
It took 20 years to come to fruition, with the first tournament being held in France in 1954.
This is an incredible achievement considering that the first Rugby Union World Cup took place 33 years later in 1987.
Record number of matches in 2025 World Cup
There will be a total of 128 matches in this bumper edition of the event.
It will be spread across the country, with the most matches being played in Paris, Toulouse, Nice and Bordeaux.
The games will be split between major stadiums and venues in smaller towns.
With the aim of selling over 800,000 tickets in total, France hopes to boost the local economy as well as filling smaller grounds with a great atmosphere.
The country is taking its cue from previous tournaments, where the electric atmosphere was evident in smaller stadiums such as Rochdale, Bristol and Workington in 2013, and in Cairns and Darwin in 2017.
The qualifying format has already been decided, with the four semi-finalists from this year’s tournament given automatic qualification.
France will be the fifth automatic entry as the host.
The qualifiers have already started among the smaller nations, with the bigger nations joining the process from 2024.
France is enjoying a stellar year in rugby league, with its wheelchair team currently ranked number one in the world and Toulouse Olympique gaining promotion to the Super League.