Interim chair of the European Rugby League (ERL) board, Graeme Thompson, has warmly welcomed the awarding of the 2025 Rugby League World Cup to France.
Following this year’s event in England, France (who, through Paul Barrière inaugurated the concept, held both the initial tournament in 1954, and the 1972 event), were formally confirmed as 2025 World Cup hosts at a ceremony in Paris, attended by French Prime Minister, Jean Castex.
“It is tremendous to see the tournament returning to its inaugural home,” said Thompson. “European Rugby League congratulates the French Federation president, Luc Lacoste and his team, on being named host to the sport’s greatest competition. They have been rewarded for a tremendous amount of hard work, and enlisting such significant government support.
“Whilst it may only be a short distance for the World Cup to travel from England in 2022 to France in 2025, this is a major step forward and an exciting journey for the sport, especially in the northern hemisphere, which now gets a rare opportunity to host on consecutive occasions. On behalf of all nations in the ERL we will continue to be fully supportive of France as they work towards the staging of the 17th World Cup – the pinnacle of our game.”
“Rugby is a French passion. We know in the current health situation, how important sport can be, especially for the youth,” noted PM Castex, who also confirmed that for the first time, 128 matches will be played across four tournaments: men’s, women’s, wheelchair and youth.
“The Rooster you can see on top of the trophy is going to sing again in 2025,” noted Federation Française de Rugby President, Lacoste, “This project is tantamount to who we are and what we represent, and for the Federation will be a great accelerator. The entire French territory will be involved.”
Also confirmed at the awarding was that, as part of the economic plan, 90 per cent of the tournament games will be played in middle-sized towns, with only the semi finals and final in cities.
Government support, split between French state and regions, will also include the three year build up to the tournament, the roll out of a sports pass for the young and the underprivileged to join clubs, in an effort to increase participation, institute job training apprenticeships and promote facility development.
In addition, corporate social responsibility and cohesion are to be at the core of the event, including attention to low carbon emissions, meaning short distances for teams to travel in the cleanest way. The mapping exercise is set to be presented to the French government in October/November, with host towns announced at the end of this year.