2026 Men's Rugby League World Cup

The 2026 Men's Rugby League World Cup will be the seventeenth staging of the Rugby League World Cup, and will be one of three major tournaments part of the 2026 Rugby League World Cup.

2026 (2026) Rugby League World Cup  ()
Number of teams10
 < 2021
2030

The competition was to be held in October and November 2025,[1] but was moved to 2026 following the withdrawal of France as the host nation.[2][3][4][5] The competition will run in parallel with the women's and wheelchair tournaments.[6][7][8]

Due to the rescheduling, the competition will feature 10 teams.[2][3][4][5]

Host selection

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The International Rugby League (IRL) originally decided in 2016 to have the tournaments hosted in the United States and Canada.[9][10] In December 2019 however, the IRL withdrew the hosting rights due to the promoters, Moore Sports International, being unable to guarantee the staging of the tournaments.[11][12]

After re-opening the bidding to host the tournaments, the IRL awarded the hosting rights to France.[13][14][15] On 15 May 2023, the France 2025 organising committee was forced to withdraw from hosting the tournament, due to financial concerns from the new French government elected in May 2022.[16][17][18][19][20]

On 3 August 2023 it was confirmed that the tournament would be moved to 2026 and held in the Southern Hemisphere.[2][3][4][5]

Qualification

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On 3 August 2023, the date the tournament was announced, the eight quarter-finalists of the 2021 World Cup (who were all previously qualified for the cancelled 2025 World Cup) were confirmed to have qualified for the tournament.[21] The qualification process for the remaining two slots was announced on 7 October 2023, and will run from 2024 to 2025.[22]

Qualified teams

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Team Method of
qualification
Date of
qualification
Total
times
qualified
Last
time
qualified
Current
consecutive
appearances
Previous best
performance
  New Zealand 2021 Group C winners 28 October 2022 17 2021 17 Winners (2008)
  England 2021 Group A winners 29 October 2022 8[a] 2021 8 Runners-up (1975, 1995, 2017)
  Australia 2021 Group B winners 29 October 2022 17 2021 17 Winners (12 times)
  Fiji 2021 Group B runners-up 29 October 2022 7 2021 7 Semi-finals (2008, 2013, 2017)
  Lebanon 2021 Group C runners-up 30 October 2022 4 2021 3 Quarter-finals (2017, 2021)
  Tonga 2021 Group D winners 30 October 2022 7 2021 7 Semi-finals (2017)
  Samoa 2021 Group A runners-up 30 October 2022 7 2021 7 Runners-up (2021)
  Papua New Guinea 2021 Group D runners-up 31 October 2022 9 2021 9 Quarter-finals (2000, 2017, 2021)
TBC 2025 World Series winners 2025
TBC 2025 World Series runners-up 2025

Controversy

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The reduction of teams for the 2026 World Cup from 16 to 10 gained criticism from players and associations of lower ranked nations for whom it would now be much harder to qualify for the competition and claims that this would stagger growth of rugby league in these countries.[23][24] On 22 August 2023, it was reported that a letter signed by 16 member associations was sent to International Rugby League protesting against the reduction of teams and ban on affiliate members.[25]

International Rugby League claimed the reduction was to increase the competitiveness of games thus showcasing the sport better. The IRL claimed having lower ranked nations at the 2021 tournament came at a "significant cost" and did not bring "commercial benefits".[26]

A ban on affiliate members was not put in place for the women's and wheelchair world cups.[22]

See also

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Notes

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  1. ^ Competed as part of Great Britain in nine previous tournaments, finishing as champions on three occasions (1954, 1960, 1972). The squads largely consisted of English players, but also featured Welsh players in every tournament. Scotland (1954, 1968, 1977, 1989–92) and Ireland (1957) were represented by native-born players in some tournaments.

References

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  1. ^ "2025 Rugby League World Cup: France promises low carbon event after being named host". SportsPro. 11 January 2022. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
  2. ^ a b c "Southern hemisphere to host 2026 World Cup". BBC Sport. 3 August 2023. Retrieved 6 August 2023.
  3. ^ a b c "Reduced Rugby League World Cup to take place in 2026 | Rugby league | The Guardian". amp.theguardian.com. Retrieved 6 August 2023.
  4. ^ a b c "2026 Rugby League World Cup to be hosted in southern hemisphere". The Independent. 3 August 2023. Retrieved 6 August 2023.
  5. ^ a b c "Rugby League World Cup 2025 to be delayed; full details announced for new look tournament". LoveRugbyLeague. 3 August 2023. Retrieved 6 August 2023.
  6. ^ "France 2025: 13 questions answered about the Rugby League World Cup". The Guardian. 19 January 2022. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
  7. ^ "'The Rooster is going to sing again': France aiming high for 2025 World Cup". National Rugby League. 11 January 2022. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  8. ^ "Everything you need to know about the 2025 World Cup in France". 11 January 2022.
  9. ^ "Rugby League World Cup moves to North America in 2025". stuff sport. 20 November 2016. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  10. ^ "North America to Host 2025 Rugby league World Cup". Canada Rugby League Association. 1 December 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2023.
  11. ^ Adrian Proszenko (4 December 2018). "US World Cup hosting plans torpedoed by money trouble". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
  12. ^ Adrian Proszenko (4 December 2018). "US World Cup hosting plans torpedoed by money trouble". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  13. ^ "France to host 2025 World Cup". National Rugby League. 8 January 2022. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  14. ^ Shaw, Matthew (11 January 2022). "French Prime Minister Jean Castex's pride after securing Rugby League World Cup". YorkshireLive. Retrieved 17 May 2023.
  15. ^ "France set to host the 2025 Rugby League World Cups". Asia Pacific Rugby League. 11 January 2022. Archived from the original on 27 January 2022. Retrieved 17 May 2023.
  16. ^ "France pulls out of hosting Rugby League World Cup". BBC Sport. 15 May 2023. Retrieved 15 May 2023.
  17. ^ "France no longer able to host 2025 Rugby League World Cup". seriousaboutrl.com. Retrieved 15 May 2023.
  18. ^ Bower, Aaron (15 May 2023). "2025 Rugby League World Cup in doubt after France pull out of staging event". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 May 2023.
  19. ^ "France withdraw from hosting 2025 Rugby League World Cup over financial concerns". Sky Sports. Retrieved 17 May 2023.
  20. ^ "Confirmed: France will not host 2025 Rugby League World Cup". LoveRugbyLeague. 15 May 2023. Retrieved 17 May 2023.
  21. ^ "Ashes series, Kangaroo, Kiwi tours revived in new International Rugby League Calendar". Rugby League International Federation. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  22. ^ a b "International Rugby League Board confirms details for World Series, World Cups". Rugby League International Federation. Retrieved 8 October 2023.
  23. ^ "'I'm hugely disappointed' - Ireland captain George King questions downsized Rugby League World Cup format". LoveRugbyLeague. 9 August 2023. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  24. ^ Cook, Sam (5 August 2023). "Brazil Rugby League launch scathing attack on IRL and say World Cup is only for 'Englishmen, Australians and their descendants'". Rugby League News. Retrieved 10 August 2023.
  25. ^ https://www.loverugbyleague.com/post/exclusive-16-countries-hit-out-at-reduced-2026-world-cup-format-with-official-letter-sent-to-international-rugby-league
  26. ^ Willacy, Gavin (4 August 2023). "Rugby league swaps inclusion for pragmatism at next World Cup". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 10 August 2023.