Rugby league bosses target Australia or New Zealand for next World Cup

By Paul Myers - RFI
Australia AFPFile
AUG 3, 2023 LISTEN

Bosses at rugby league's world governing body on Thursday pinpointed Australia or New Zealand as the venue for the next World Cup. 

The tournament was scheduled to be held in France in 2025 but organisers there said that hosting the competition carried unacceptable financial risks.

Soon after the French pulled out, administrators in New Zealand said they had been in talks with Australian counterparts about jointly hosting the tournament in 2025.

However, following a meeting of the International Rugby League (IRL) board in Singapore, supremos agreed to shift the event to 2026 with a revised format.

The competition will feature 10 men's, eight women's and eight wheelchair teams.

The eight men's quarter-finalists from the previous World Cup will automatically qualify for the 2026 tournament, as will the four women's and wheelchair semi-finalists.

The IRL also decided that the women's rugby league World Cup will be held as a stand-alone tournament from 2028, with the subsequent men's World Cup taking place in 2030.


A decision will be taken on when to schedule the wheelchair World Cup after the 2026 tournament.

 "The IRL board has made these decisions to create more compelling content and secure the financial future of the international game," said the IRL chairman Troy Grant.

"The cancellation of France 2025 has given us an opportunity to refresh the structure of the World Cup and associated tournaments as part of a long-term international calendar that all in the game have been desperately seeking."

 A decision on the hosting rights for the 2026 World Cup will be made by the end of this year.

The last Rugby League World Cup was held in England in 2022, after a year's delay because of the Covid-19 pandemic.