The Rugby League World Cup is set to return to France more than 70 years after the nation hosted the inaugural tournament, with French Prime Minister Jean Castex to announce details of the successful 2025 bid on Tuesday.
France has been the IRL’s preferred location for the 2025 World Cup and FFRXIII president Luc Lacoste has won the backing of the French Government to stage the tournament in 40 cities and towns across the country.
A press conference will be held on Tuesday in Paris, which is expected to host the opening match and the finals of the expanded World Cup featuring men’s, women’s, wheelchair and youth tournaments.
A media release from Lacoste and IRL chairman Troy Grant confirmed that France had been awarded the 2025 World Cup and “all details of the event will be revealed" at the press conference.
“The Prime Minister will announce the launch of the Rugby League World Cup, which will be organised by France in 2025,” an FFRXII statement said.
“This international event, which has not been organised in France for more than 50 years, will help promote the influence of French sport and is intended to irrigate the entire territory, by being organised in around 40 towns.”
France hosted the 1972 World Cup final between Australia and England, who retained the Paul Barrière Trophy after the match ended in a controversial 10-10 draw following the disallowing of a try to Kangaroos fullback Graeme Langlands.
Barrière was a driving force behind the establishment of the Rugby League World Cup in 1954 after more than two decades of lobbying by French officials.
The 2025 tournament will be 17th edition of the World Cup and it is expected that the number of teams and matches will exceed those at the postponed RLWC2021 in England at the end of the upcoming season.
In addition to adding a Youth World Cup, France’s proposal included the doubling of women’s and wheelchair teams from eight each at this year’s tournament to 16 each in 2025 – bringing them on par with the men’s competition.
The World Cup bid had the support of seven-times NRL premiership winning coach Wayne Bennett and Sydney Roosters mentor Trent Robinson, who is the FFRXIII director of coaching.
Bennett went with Grant to a meeting with French consul-general Anne Boillon to propose the World Cup being in France 12 months after the 2024 Paris Olympics and two years after the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
The French consulate in Sydney tweeted the 2025 World Cup announcement on Saturday.
Grant believed that staging the World Cup in France would boost the game both domestically and internationally after initial plans for the tournament to be held in North America were scrapped.
After hitting rock bottom in 2019 when the Junior Kangaroos thrashed the French Test team 62-4 in Wollongong, the game in France is undergoing a revival with Catalans Dragons and Toulouse Olympique in this year’s Super League.
The Dragons were minor premiers and reached their first Super League grand final last season but lost 14-12 to St Helens, while Toulouse earned promotion to the top flight after being unbeaten in the Championship.