Recently elected president of La Fédération Française de rugby à XIII, Luc Lascoste, has welcomed the announcement by Troy Grant, chair of International Rugby League (IRL), that efforts have begun to take the 2025 Rugby League World Cup tournament back to where it began in 1954.
Grant stated in his introduction to the media this week that he felt that returning the World Cup to France was a “targeted, strategic priority” and the initiative has been backed by such as Wayne Bennett, Michael Chieka and James Graham.
Paul Barrière – who held Lacoste’s position – was the proponent behind sport’s second-ever global competition, the inaugural RL World Cup final taking place at the Parc des Princes, Paris in front of over 30,000 fans principally supporting the hosts. Barrière now has the trophy named after him.
Commenting on the process to get the World Cup in its entirety back to the nation for the first time since 1972, Lacoste noted: “It would be an extraordinary opportunity for French Rugby League, its development and its return among the great nations. France must do everything to regain its place in the history of this sport because it can give it a lot in return – and it would be easier if the organization of the 2025 World Cup is possible.”
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Lacoste confirmed that, whilst there has been a lot of worldwide support for the idea, initial discussions with the French government – who would be needed to back it – are at an early stage. “France will host the Rugby Union World Cup in 2023 and the Olympic Games in 2024. We are, therefore, also capable and competent to organize the Rugby League World Cup. The skills and know-how will be there, the modern and perfectly operational infrastructures will also exist.
“The IRL and Troy Grant have understood this and now look at it with conviction and determination. Contacts have already been made by the IRL with the French government. There is a real will and desire to see France return to being a major player and the planets are aligned to move forward. We are only at the beginning, however, and nothing is decided at this stage.”
Lacoste, who has already overseen the appointment of Laurent Frayssinous as head coach of France for the forthcoming 2021 World Cup in England, together with Trent Robinson as director of rugby for the national team for the tournament and Sean Long and Maxime Grésèque as assistant coaches, advised how much taking the 17th iteration of the tournament back to its spiritual home would mean.
“Our preparations for the 2021 World Cup are already proof of our ambition,” he said. “We will not wait for the 2025 World Cup to move forward and reform; it will neither be the beginning nor an end in itself, but it will be an accelerator. Having the 2025 World Cup in France would offer us so many possibilities.”