Reaction to 2025 Rugby League World Cup heading to France

The Rugby League World Cup will be returning to France following the award of the 2025 tournament.

The country hosted the very first edition in 1954, having been the brainchild of former French rugby president Paul Barrière, whose name now adorns the trophy.

Reaction has been overwhelmingly positive of the prospect of a third French World Cup and the potential opportunities for the country and the sport.

Jean Castex, French prime minister

“France is a land of major sporting events, which represent a tremendous asset for economic appeal and social cohesion in our regions. Hosting of the Rugby Union World Cup in 2023 and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024 are spearheads of this policy, carried out jointly by the state and communities. The Rugby League World Cup, which will be organised in 2025 by France, is a great opportunity for the many regions and cities that wish to engage in this dynamic and I support it wholeheartedly.” 

Tony Grant, chair of International Rugby League

“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.

“We are very grateful to the French government and all the regions, cities and towns for the strong support they have given to our outstanding French bid team and we can’t wait to welcome visitors from across the globe to this wonderful country, not only to share our exciting & accessible sport but also to enjoy world class tourism, rich cultural experiences and the unique atmosphere of France and its people.

“This 2025 World Cup journey will allow us to build on the already strong bond that exists between rugby league and France, but also to deepen rugby league’s presence in and throughout the country. As a sport, we are proud to complete a trifecta of major world sporting events in this magnificent French decade of sport and help celebrate a wonderful, proud and dynamic nation through an unforgettable celebration of rugby league.”

Luc Lacoste, president of the French Rugby League Federation

“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. 

“I would like to thank all the teams who participated in the development of this project and, first and foremost, its Executive Director, Michel Wiener. I would also like to thank the IRL Steering Committee, represented by its President, Troy Grant, for its confidence in our project. Finally, we would like to thank the French Government for its support as well as the regions of France and the local authorities who have already come forward to organise this wonderful event alongside France 2025. Together, we will make France 2025 a huge success. The story starts today.”

Ralph Rimmer, president of the Rugby Football League

“I am delighted for Luc Lacoste and the team he has assembled that they have secured the right to host the 2025 Rugby League World Cup. 

“It was the imagination and determination of French Rugby League pioneers such as Paul Barriere which established our sport’s World Cup in 1954, and it has taken similar qualities to allow this announcement to be made 50 years since France last staged the competition in 1972. 

“With Rugby League in France enjoying a golden year in 2021, their Wheelchair team ranked number one in the world, and Toulouse Olympique joining the Catalans Dragons in the forthcoming Betfred Super League season, this is another major boost to Rugby League in Europe and the Northern Hemisphere. 

“Working with Luc and his team over recent months has been a pleasure. Along the way, they also have forged strong partnerships with, and won the confidence of, the French national and regional governments. They are a very focused and impressive unit. 

“I would also like to pay tribute to Troy Grant, the IRL Chair, for joining Luc in promoting this concept – Troy has been an outstanding Chair. 

“We have much to anticipate in England this autumn as we prepare to host RLWC2021, following its postponement last year – and can now do so in the knowledge that the World Cup will return to France in 2025 after a 53-year absence.” 

Jon Dutton, chief executive of Rugby League World Cup 2021

“On behalf of RLWC2021, I want to extend my congratulations to Luc Lacoste and his team in France 2025. I wish them all the best on their exciting journey.

“Today’s announcement further underlines the positive future of international Rugby League as we continue with our plan to deliver the biggest and best World Cup in October and November this year. We remain determined that France 2025 will inherit a tournament admired not only for the quality of performances on the field but also the positive social impact and inclusive approach in local communities.

“Ahead of the three trophies being lifted in Manchester 18 and 19 we will work with the International Federation and the 2025 team on the transfer of knowledge so they can build on our success.”