France 2025: 13 questions answered about the Rugby League World Cup | Rugby competition

fFrench Prime Minister Jean Castex confirmed last week that they will host the 17th Rugby League World Cup in 2025. The announcement was made in Paris, where the confirmation of government support for a budget of €59 million has enabled the French Rugby League Federation for their offer. “The rooster you can see on top of the trophy will sing again in 2025,” Castex said.

Why is it held in France?
The tournament had been promised to the US for the time being, only for the promoters behind that bid to collapse after the England v New Zealand loss-making test in Denver in 2018. Desperate to avoid returning to Australia and New Zealand so soon after 2017. and their IRL chief Troy Grant knew that France was the obvious option and that it held “huge potential”. He convinced Luc Lacoste, the president of the French Rugby League Federation, to take the baton and run away.

Why does France say 2025 will be the biggest World Cup ever?
Because it will be. There are four tournaments, up from one at this year’s World Cup in England, with the men’s event running alongside women’s, wheelchair and a new Under-19 competitions. Not only that, but all four will have 16 teams participating meaning there will be 64 teams in France compared to 32 in England this year and just 20 at the previous World Cup in 2017.

Has France hosted the World Cup before?
The whole concept of a Rugby League World Cup was first floated in France in 1934 and came to fruition 20 years later thanks to their federation’s visionary secretary Paul Barriere, 33 years before the first draft of the Rugby Union. In 1954, a weakened side of Britain even shocked itself by taking the win at a time when only four countries were playing the code, and each of them had beaten each other in the past two years. France also hosted it in 1972 and hosted a group in 2000.

With 128 matches, how many locations do they need?
“We are looking for a total of 40 host cities and 50 base camp cities and already have 38 candidates,” said France2025 Director General Michel Wiener. “We are confident. Many more cities contacted us after the official announcement. I will travel to each city by the end of June to present our project and hear about the reasons behind their candidacy – their sporting, economic, tourism and social aspirations.” to avoid.

New Zealand players do the Haka before their match against France at the Rugby League World Cup in 1954. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

In which major cities are games held?
Not many, but of the eight cities listed so far, four are among the largest in France – Paris, Toulouse, Nice and Bordeaux – plus Martigues, which is next to Marseille airport. The focus is on taking France2025 to places that will miss the Rugby World Cup in 2023 and the Paris Olympics in 2024. In a plan to boost local economies, 90% of matches will take place in cities that are normally ineligible for international events.

So the crowds will be small?
Not in the big games. France held hugely successful matches at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, with New Zealand’s visits to Avignon and Samoa to Perpignan selling out. The French group in the 2000 Rugby League World Cup was arguably the culmination of an otherwise miserable tournament. France has an average crowd of around 14,000 for major home games and should see five-figure gates in many areas. They are aiming for an average of 11,000 in the men’s tournament and hope to sell over 800,000 tickets in total, most of them under €30.

Will it all be in the Southern Rugby Belt?
Not at all. The tournaments will be well spread out: from Arras near Lens in the northeast and Vannes in Brittany, passing a cluster of stages around Paris, via Limoges and Montlucon in the center of the country, to Perpignan near the Spanish border, Nice along the Mediterranean coast from Monaco, and across to Besançon to the east, nestled between Dijon and the Swiss border.

How many of these are rugby league cities?
Only six of the cities that regularly host professional rugby competitions have signed up so far, although Wiener expects Avignon to bid soon. League fans will be happy to see Albi, Carcassonne, Villeneuve-sur-Lot and Limoux already on the list. Of the seemingly left-wing candidates, Montauban is one of six wheelchair rugby clubs in France, while Begles has both men’s and women’s teams. But many local authorities just want to be a part of something exciting and unusual.

Why all the fuss that Vichy is on the bid list?
During the Second World War, Vichy, a town between Clermont-Ferrand and Lyon, housed the collaborationist government that banned the rugby league, confiscated all its possessions and handed them over to the rugby union. Given France’s difficulties in coping with this murky history, it was groundbreaking to hear Castex talk about rugby league managing to survive the ill-fated Vichy regime. Federation President Lacoste added: “I have asked everyone to look ahead and watch what has happened before – Vichy is the same. It looks forward, it does not look back.” There are several other well-known places with things beyond rugby league: racing mecca Le Mans east of Geneva and alpine ski resort Chambery nearby; the most southwestern location is the Catholic holy city of Lourdes in the Pyrenees; and Le Creusot, home of those pans that you have to lift with two hands.

A French player at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
A French player at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. Photo: Mark Nolan/Getty Images

Why aren’t there more big stadiums?
The organizers have learned from previous tournaments that, rather than risk small crowds running around large stadiums in cities that are spoiled with weekly elite sports rates, some of the most enjoyable and memorable moments can be created from a few thousand crammed into a modest environment. Just think of the happy scenes in Rochdale, Bristol and Workington in 2013 and in Cairns and Darwin in 2017.

How will teams qualify?
The IRL is expected to confirm that only the semi-finalists of this year’s World Cup will certainly be in 2025, ending the farcical allocation of automatic places at the next World Cup to the quarter-finalists of the last World Cup. That system saw Samoa qualify for 2021 despite only taking one point in 2017 thanks to a stark draw with Scotland, which itself would have missed an automatic place in the 2017 tournament despite taking five points in 2013 if Italy had defeated Tonga. Qualifiers for 2025 have already started and with Covid pushing everything back a year, larger countries will still join that process in the fall of 2024.

So France must qualify?
New. The IRL has told France that they will automatically host all four tournaments. France’s low ranking has given them an incredibly tough World Cup group this year; they will have to beat England or Samoa to reach the quarter-finals. But with Sydney Roosters guru Trent Robinson directing, they expect to end two decades of embarrassing international screenings.

Could France win?
No chance, but with more Super League players than ever, they should have their best side since the early 1990s before the Super League left them behind. The Catalans, Arthur Mourgue and Mathieu Laguerre, and the center of Toulouse, Mathieu Jussaume, all have 100 Super League games to play by the time the tournament starts. Last year, French coach Laurent Frayssinous only had about 20 Super League players to choose from; that number has increased with Toulouse’s promotion and should continue to rise.

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