France withdraw from hosting 2025 Rugby League World Cup for financial reasons; IRL chief Troy Grant “very disappointed” by the decision; Australia and New Zealand could be alternative options as hosts; last year’s delayed World Cup was held in England
Last Updated: 16/05/23 7:34am
New Zealand hope to step in as 2025 Rugby League World Cup co-hosts with Australia following France’s withdrawal, the NZRL boss said on Tuesday.
France confirmed on Monday it would no longer host 2025, citing a failure to meet financial criteria outlined by the French government.
New Zealand and Australia co-hosted the 2017 World Cup and could do so again in 2025, New Zealand Rugby League chief executive Greg Peters said.
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“We are interested in exploring alternative propositions in this part of the world, with our ARLC (Australian Rugby League Commission) colleagues and others, to create an alternative and exciting tournament that can replace France 2025,” Peters told New Zealand media.
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“It’s early days, but prior to this announcement we had already started thinking about what that might look like at a high level, and we have some recent experience from 2017, when Australia and New Zealand hosted it.
“But we believe that with help from Pasifika countries and Pasifika elements, we can create something pretty special down here.”
The next hosts would face a tight turnaround to stage the tournament in 2025 but Peters said it would be feasible.
“It is possible (for 2025) and definitely that would be the initial goal, to keep it in the cycle,” Peters said.
“Particularly after we missed the cycle with the postponement of the 2021 World Cup, it would be good to get it back into the cycle and avoid other major events around the world.”
The last World Cup in England was postponed to 2022 after Australia and New Zealand opted out of playing it in 2021, citing COVID-19.
Australia won the competition, claiming a record-extending 12th World Cup title for the men’s team but Australia’s National Rugby League boss Andrew Abdo said it was too early to comment on whether the tournament could be relocated to the country.
“We’re hard at work as to what that calendar looks like over the next five years,” Abdo told Australian media.
“Hopefully very soon we’ll be able to talk more openly about what those plans look like.”