France have pulled out as hosts of the 2025 Rugby League World Cup, organisers said on Monday, due to problems with government funding guarantees.
The organising committee released a statement saying it could not guarantee the financial viability of the event and had therefore decided to forgo its hosting rights.
“Despite all the work carried out by the organising committee, it hasn’t been possible to fully secure the risk of a deficit,” the committee said in the statement.
“Despite the interest shown in this unique sport … and accessible to all thanks to our ticketing rates, and despite the desire shown by several cities across France to host World Cup matches, the board had to decide to renounce organising this major international competition, which the International Rugby League had entrusted to France.
“This difficult decision was taken so as not to threaten the robustness of the major international sporting event models that France now wishes to promote.
“In addition, the state will reinforce the support it provides to the rugby league development plan supported by the federation to ensure that this sport has a better visibility and to make it shine again in France.”
In a separate statement on Monday, the International Rugby League said it expected to be able to inform member nations of planned qualifying matches and alternative fixtures by July.
“The French government, particularly the Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera, supported the bid team financially and granted additional time to meet benchmarks,” International Rugby League chair Troy Grant said.
“I respect the French government’s decision amid the challenges they are facing, but I can’t hide my disappointment that I conveyed clearly to them in person.
“Despite our focus having been on France, we will now accelerate our consideration of other contingency options.”
France won the bid to host the 2025 World Cup in January 2022.
The previous edition – the 2021 event – was held in England in October and November 2022 after being delayed due to the pandemic. Australia won both the men’s and women’s events, while England won the wheelchair title.
The 2025 Rugby League World Cup is expected to feature four individual tournaments: the men’s and women’s events, as well as wheelchair and youth cups.
France will host this year’s men’s rugby union World Cup from September 8 to October 28.