French to take RL WC2025 'to the people'

Australia are holders of the Rugby League World Cup, which will be staged throughout France in 2025.
Australia are holders of the Rugby League World Cup, which will be staged throughout France in 2025.

French organisers of the 2025 World Cup have promised to deliver a low-carbon, people's tournament with 90 per cent of the 128 matches held in mid-sized towns.

Prime Minister Jean Castex confirmed the destination of the 17th World Cup at a press conference in Paris, which will be one of the 40 venues for an event that will run for five weeks from early October to mid-November 2025.

It will follow the 2023 Rugby Union World Cup and the Paris Olympics in 2024.

The focus will be on accessibility and affordability, with the average price of a ticket below PS25 ($A47) ($A47).

"France 2025 will be the people's competition," said Michel Wiener, the tournament's managing director. "This event will be a great public celebration that will showcase the diversity of our country's regions."

Wiener told the press conference he would be working on a budget of PS49m ($A93 m) with 70 per cent coming from private sources.

They aim to sell 822,000 tickets for the 128 matches across all four events - the men's, women's, wheelchair and youth competitions - including 343,000 for the men's World Cup.

So far there have been bids from 38 towns and cities to act as hosts, from Brittany and Normandy in the north to the rugby league heartland of the south, and include Vichy, a spa town that was the base for German occupation in the Second World War, an event to which Castex referred in his opening speech.

Because rugby league players were associated with the Resistance, the game's assets were seized by the Vichy regime in 1941 and the sport was banned in a decree signed by head of state Marshal Petain.

Castex said: "This is an important moment, an historic moment. It was in France that the idea for a Rugby League World Cup was first mooted in 1934.

"This did not come to fruition but, even in those days, the advocates of the sport were very determined.

"They managed to overcome the ban under the Vichy regime and the project was picked up by Paul Barriere after the war and the first Rugby League World Cup was held in France in 1954.

"There was another World Cup in 1972 so it is high time it came back to France and this will give us an opportunity to commemorate the 130th anniversary of rugby league, which was established in 1895."

Australian Associated Press