World Rugby streamlines bidding process for next four World Cups
Hosts of the next two editions of both the men's and women's Rugby World Cups will be awarded at the same, under a new bidding process and timeline unveiled by the sport's governing body today.
The new process will apply for the 2025 and 2029 women’s tournaments, and the 2027 and 2031 men’s events.
World Rugby said the decision will give the sport a 10-year strategic roadmap that it hopes will bring certainty to commercial partners and broadcasters, and accelerate the global development of women’s rugby.
Bill Beaumont, World Rugby chairman, said: “The global Covid-19 pandemic, while incredibly challenging has provided this opportunity to press the rest button and examine how we can do things differently and better.
“This ground-breaking dual awarding process reflects our vision to further align the selection process of our men’s and women’s Rugby World Cups, providing longer-term certainty in terms of preparation and partnership with World Rugby for future hosts, maximising legacy, sustainability and engagement outcomes.
“This is also a process that recognises the need to adapt following the Covid-19 pandemic and provide a stronger partnership with interested nations in developing their hosting models.”
The new process will feature a more compact three-phase model, beginning in February 2021 with the ‘dialogue phase’ between World Rugby, unions, governments and other key stakeholders, which will allow potential hosts to understand the business and delivery model to build a proposal.
Phase two, launching in May and ending in January 2022, will be the ‘candidate phase’, where the formal process will begin. Candidates will build their proposals with World Rugby and will conclude with candidates submitting ‘candidate files’, hosting agreements and guarantees.
The third phase, starting a month later, will be the ‘evaluation phase’, where the bid will be evaluated by industry experts against key criteria agreed by World Rugby Council.
The evaluation report will then be given to the council for a vote in May 2022.
World Rugby does have form for dual allocations, having awarded the men's 2015 and 2019 tournaments at the same time, to England and Japan, respectively.
Brett Gosper, World Rugby chief executive, admitted World Rugby might never have taken the “risk” to award the 2019 World Cup to Japan without naming rugby heartland England as the 2015 hosts simultaneously.
He said: “We are regrouping a number of elements together, for strategic and planning purposes. That enables us to go to market with a very strong proposition for potential commercial and broadcast partner, which is great for the economy of the sport and great for the return of the sport for World Rugby and our drive to grow the sport around the world.
“The last time we did this we ended up with a dual outcome which was England in 2015 and Japan in 2019. So people were able to use the certainty of a World Cup in a market like England with, ‘let’s be a bit bolder and braver and go to less-known (rugby) areas of the world and try and drive the sport from a development point of view.
“And that risk, as it was seen at the time, was well worth taking but probably if we didn’t have a dual-awarding system we would not have ended up in Japan.”
Japan 2019 is the most economically successful Rugby World Cup to date, generating £4.3 billion ($5.6 billion) in economic activity and delivering record broadcast and fan-engagement outcomes.
Australia and Russia have already signalled their intention to bid to host the 2027 men’s World Cup, with France already awarded hosting rights for the 2023 tournament.
Argentina had expressed its interest but abandoned its plans to throw its weight behind Australia’s bid.
It could now turn its attentions to 2031, along with USA which has made no secret of its desire to host the tounament.
The last women’s Rugby World Cup in 2017 hosted by Ireland broke attendance, broadcast and social media engagement records.
New Zealand saw off competition from England, France, Portugal and Wales to be awarded hosting rights for next year’s tournament, which is scheduled to be held between 18 September and 16 October.