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France sets out plans for 2025 Rugby League World Cup

France has today (Tuesday) been officially announced as the host of the 2025 Rugby League World Cup, with 40 cities across the country set to stage games across the men’s, women’s, wheelchair and youth events.

The French Rugby League Federation (FFR XIII) revealed on Friday that it would be hosting the event, and a ceremony has been held today to mark the official announcement.

Host venues for the event have not yet been confirmed, but 90% of the games are set to be played in “middle-sized” towns, with only the semi-finals and final to take place in cities.

It is hoped the tournament will be an accelerator for the French economy, tourism, employment and vocational training. The 2025 Rugby League World Cup will mark the third major sporting event to take place in France in as many years, after the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Nearly a million tickets will go on sale for the Rugby League World Cup from the end of 2023, with organisers anticipating 100,000 supporters to travel to France from overseas. The average ticket price will be less than €30 (£25/$34).

The event will mark the third time that France has hosted the Rugby League World Cup after its inaugural edition in 1954, and the 1972 tournament.

Troy Grant, president of International Rugby League (IRL), said: “The rebirth of international rugby league in France has been a strategic goal of our sport for many decades and I am delighted that it will now become a reality through this award of the 2025 World Cup to France.

“As the sport’s international federation, International Rugby League is so pleased to be able to bring the World Cup home, to where it all began with the first World Cup in 1954, and in keeping with that historic theme, for the very first time there will be four competitions – men, women, wheelchair and youth – truly a Rugby League World Cup for everyone, and for all of society.”

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the event is a “great opportunity” for the country. Luc Lacoste, president of FFR XIII, added: “With this announcement of the return of the Rugby League World Cup to its homeland of France, it is wonderful news that is shaping up today for our sport, the French Rugby League Federation, and especially for the clubs, managers, members and volunteers.

“We are extremely proud for them to see this magnificent event being launched today. First and foremost, it belongs to them. What a journey we have taken in less than a year. It was a commitment to the world of French rugby league; it is now becoming a reality.

“The very design of the project opens up great prospects for the development of this sport in multiple regions and with a large and diverse audience.”

French rugby league is on the up after Catalans Dragons reached the Super League grand final for the first time in 2021. Toulouse Olympique will also compete in the Super League this season after earning promotion from the Championship last year.

This year’s Rugby League World Cup will take place from October 15 to November 19 in England. The event had been due to take place last year but was postponed after Australia and New Zealand said they would not participate due to COVID-19 concerns.

In November, a revised schedule for the tournament was announced with Wigan’s DW Stadium added as a replacement venue.