11 countries express interest in hosting future Rugby League World Cups, confirm IRL board

International Rugby League has confirmed that it has received 22 expressions of interest across 11 countries to host World Cups from 2026 to 2030.
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The next World Cup has been pushed back 12 months following the withdrawal of France as the host nation due to financial reasons, with the campaign now set to be held in the Southern Hemisphere in 2026.

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The 2028 Women’s World Cup has proved to be the most popular, with future confirmed tournaments in 2026 (Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair), 2028 (Women’s), 2029 (Wheelchair) and 2030 (Men’s).

The RLWC trophy at the home of Bolton Wanderers in 2022 as England played FranceThe RLWC trophy at the home of Bolton Wanderers in 2022 as England played France
The RLWC trophy at the home of Bolton Wanderers in 2022 as England played France
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Eight expressions of interest have been submitted to host the 2028 Women’s campaign, with five countries interested in hosting the 2029 World Cup, while seven have nominated for the 2030 World Cup.

Two countries have submitted interest in hosting the next World Cup, which includes a reduced 10-team Men’s World Cup and eight-team Women’s and Wheelchair World Cups.

The eight quarter-finalists of the Men’s World Cup at the delayed 2021 competition were confirmed to have been qualified, including Shaun Wane’s England, with two remaining spots. Champions Australia, Samoa, New Zealand, Lebanon, Tonga, Fiji and Papua New Guinea have also confiirmed their places.

IRL chair Troy Grant said: “The IRL board made the decision in July that future Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair World Cups would be staged as stand-alone events after Rugby League World Cup 2026 and the level of interest in hosting those tournaments confirms that was the right decision.

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“The response to the ITT [invitation to tender] process also underlines the strategic approach behind the IRL board’s decision to reduce the size of the World Cup finals in order to cultivate more host countries, which will make rugby league a more global sport and the World Cups more accessible events.

“It is one of the many benefits of the international calendar that the IRL is able to schedule three World Cups in three years to provide more countries with an opportunity to host one or more of the game’s flagship tournaments.”

The deadline for confirmation of tenderers for the 2028, 2029 and 2030 IRL Rugby League World Cups is February 16, 2024.

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