Rugby World Cup hosts to be decided through open vote after rules revamp
World Rugby is set to change the way it decides the hosts of future men’s and women’s World Cups, with a recommendation no longer being made to the governing body’s council members and all voting made public.
The World Rugby Council yesterday approved proposals by its World Cup Board for a more transparent process of selecting hosts for future men’s and women’s editions of the flagship tournament, following controversy in the men's 2023 process.
Previously, World Rugby could make its recommendation to council members on which bid should win, before hosting rights were awarded by the members through a secret voting system.
However, in a shake-up of the rules, independent experts and the Rugby World Cup Board will now provide a “risk-based technical evaluation” of the bids, which will then be considered by council members before they decide on a host via an open electronic vote.
Secret voting will also end, with all results to be published in a move designed to discourage promises made in return for votes.
France was awarded the 2023 World Cup back in 2017, despite World Rugby’s board recommending South Africa as the host.
France was ranked second in an evaluation report, behind South Africa and ahead of Ireland. However, France won 24 votes to 15 after Ireland was eliminated in the first round.
A review into the bidding process was then conducted by independent experts BDO LLP in 2018, which featured feedback from stakeholders including bid unions and council members. It recommended that an overall score or recommendation should not be given in the future.
Bill Beaumont, World Rugby chairman, said: “In my second term, I have strived to implement key governance enhancements that injects further transparency, clarity and consistency into our decision-making processes and Rugby World Cup is at the centre of that strategy as our flagship men’s and women’s event and major driver of revenue.
“The decision taken by my council colleagues will ensure that we are able to advance with a world-class host selection process that will deliver a robust 10-year growth strategy for the sport as we collectively look to rebound from the pandemic and optimise revenue certainty for reinvestment in the sport at all levels.”
World Rugby said from next February it will invite bids for the 2025 and 2029 women’s World Cups and the 2027 and 2031 men’s tournaments and there will no longer be a preference for events to be hosted by a single nation.
Australia has already declared its intention to bid for the 2027 World Cup, along with Russia, while USA is being urged to apply to host the 2031 event as the governing body looks to expand its global reach.
An independent report earlier this year showed that a host can expect the total economic benefit to be worth up to £2.9 billion ($3.9 billion).
The hosts for the four tournaments are to be decided in May 2022.