Talking Rugby League: World Cup must be first step in restoring glory of French game

League Express editor MARTYN SADLER reacts to the news that the 2025 World Cup looks to be heading for France.


The news that the 2025 World Cup is likely to be held in France is surely a cause for great celebration for all who love Rugby League.

We will all learn more on Tuesday morning, when a media conference will be held in Paris headed by Jean Castex, the French Prime Minister, who is expected to reveal that the French government will back the proposal for a tournament in that country and that matches will be taken to towns and cities all over the country.

It’s a wonderful opportunity for our sport to extend its footprint both in France and beyond.

The tournament, if it goes ahead, will complete a trifecta of international sporting events in France, following the Rugby Union World Cup in 2023 and the Olympic Games in 2024.

To be linked with those events will surely do Rugby League absolutely no harm at all.

I’m already looking forward to travelling throughout France to watch World Cup matches.

But the important thing for Rugby League is that we must use the tournament to leverage more big Rugby League clubs across the Channel.

If big clubs can’t be created in cities such as Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Montpellier and Bordeaux, then it will be a missed opportunity, regardless of how much we might enjoy travelling around France for the tournament itself.

And we need to create a competitive structure that can accommodate such a development.

The World Cup can only be the first step on the road.

The problem is that I’m not sure we have the imagination or the commitment to do it.

I hope I’m wrong.

The above is an extract from Martyn’s ‘Talking Rugby League’ column this week. This content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.