France has pulled out of hosting the next Rugby League World Cup set to have been staged during October and November 2025.
France won the bid to host the 2025 World Cup back in January 2022.
The French government had set out a financial criteria for the event which organisers have been unable to meet, leaving the event at risk of a financial deficit.
The tournament was awarded to France after initial plans for it to be held in North America were scrapped.
This week the French organising committee released a statement saying it had 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 a media release.
“Despite the interest shown in this unique sport … 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..”
In a separate statement the International Rugby League (IRL) says it will now consider other options for the 2025 tournament, with the board due to meet in July.
“It’s difficult to express how disappointed I am with this news,” said IRL chair Troy Grant.
“There’s no secret as to how important the strengthening of France as a rugby league nation is to our global game and central to our strategic plans..
“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,” says the IRL Chair.
The 2025 tournament in France was to consist of four versions of the World Cup format; men’s, women’s, wheelchair and youth.
England held the event in 2022, with Australia being crowned the men’s and women’s champions and the hosts claiming the wheelchair title.
Samoa and Pacific nations Tonga, Fiji and Papua New Guinea have had emerging success in recent years.
At the last World Cup, Samoa made the grand final against Australia after taking out the hosts at the semifinal.
Samoa also recorded Rugby League World Cup wins over Tonga (20-18) and big scores over France (62-4) and Greece (72-4) while Steven Crichton was the top try scorer.
16 nations competed at the last Rugby League World Cup, however, statistics points to Australia’s dominance to the point of raising questions as to the global growth of the game.
Of the last 12 men’s World Cups, Australia have now won 11 of them. In England, Australia conceded just eight tries throughout the entire tournament.