The Board of International Rugby League (IRL) has approved the regional berth allocation for the men’s and women’s world cups to be held in France in 2025.
France will automatically qualify for all four competitions – men, women, wheelchair and youth – which will all feature 16 teams, underlining the event’s “sport for all” motto
Each region has been guaranteed a number of places in France. In the men’s competition, Asia Pacific will have between 5 and 7 berths, Europe will have 6 to 8, Americas will have 2 and Middle East Africa will have 1 or 2.
Not including the eight quarter-finalists from RLWC2021, who will all pre-qualify for 2025, the qualification tournament will total 27 nations, a 50% increase compared with RLWC 2021 and a sign of the rapid growth of the sport internationally.
For the first time ever, the women’s competition will feature a qualification process. All eight nations competing at RLWC2021 will automatically qualify leaving the rest to play through regional qualification, although all nations will be subject to minimum standards agreed and designed to ensure long-term development of the women’s game in each nation.
The places guaranteed by region are Asia-Pacific and Europe will have six berths each, MEA will be guaranteed one and the final three berths are allocated to the Americas.
Both the men’s and women’s regional allocations demonstrate a strategic increase in guaranteed berths for the Americas and MEA regions when compared to RLWC2021.
The design of the wheelchair and youth competitions has still to be completed and further announcements will follow.
Commenting on the discussion and the decisions, IRL Chair Troy Grant said, “There were some significant and positive decisions taken at this meeting and they are a clear signal of the ambitions that we all have for international rugby league.
“Our women’s game is growing well and the guarantee of places to each of the RLWC2021 teams gives them the certainty and continuity that helps them develop their programmes whilst, at the same time, opening up massive opportunities to new nations taking up the women’s game.
Luc Lacoste, President of the Federation Francaise de Rugby a XIII commented, “I thank the Board of IRL for their deliberations and welcome the decisions. We want France2025 to be the most inclusive world cup ever with the widest possible representation from around the world.”