The US is next month expected to be named as host of the 2031 men’s Rugby World Cup (RWC) top-tier rugby union national teams competition and of the 2033 edition of the women’s tournament.
Speaking to media yesterday (March 24), Alan Gilpin, chief executive of the World Rugby governing body for the sport, said: “We’re not talking to anybody else about Rugby World Cup hosting in 2031 and 2033. It doesn’t mean it’s a done deal … but it means that we strategically believe we can deliver the right outcomes with this hosting plan.”
The US began a feasibility study in 2020 to assess technical, financial, and operational considerations of hosting both editions of the RWC – with a view then to potentially staging the women’s edition in 2025 or 2029 and the men’s edition in 2027 or 2031.
Shortly thereafter, Tom Hill, chief commercial officer at World Rugby, told GlobalData Sport in an interview that the organization was looking to take the RWC to new, emerging territories following the success of the 2019 RWC in Japan.
“In terms of emerging markets, in places like India, Brazil, China, Germany, Spain, and even the USA, our fans have doubled to about 168 million, and that has come on the back of watching a World Cup in Japan,” Hill said.
That was borne out late last year when it was announced that World Rugby and the US were entering into a process of “exclusive targeted dialogue” with a view to the country hosting the men’s tournament in 2031 and a women’s tournament “in the future”.
The two tournaments are now said to be all but locked in for 2031 and 2033, respectively, with the US bid said to be priced in the region of $500,000 and to have support from president Biden's administration.
It will be considered at a meeting of the World Rugby Council on May 12.
At the same time that the US entered into exclusive dialogue with World Ruby, England and Australia were named as the preferred candidates to host the women’s and men’s Rugby World Cup tournaments in 2025 and 2027, respectively.
Of potential problems with the Australia 2027 bid, Gilpin said yesterday: “The short answer is there’ll be more news to come in the next couple of weeks.
“We’re down in Australia from the end of next week, addressing the outstanding issues with our friends at Rugby Australia. So, there’ll be more to come on that. In terms of contingencies, yes, lots of conversations are going on around who’s capable of hosting … Again, those are very strategic conversations rather than a competitive bid process.
“So [Australia] are our preferred candidate for 2027 and we expect to be in good shape in the discussions with them.”
Rugby Australia officially launched its 2027 hosting bid in May last year, claiming at that point that it would provide an economic boost of A$2.5 billion ($1.9 billion) for the nation.
The 2021 women’s edition of the RWC, to be held in New Zealand, was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and will now be played from October 8 to November 12 this year.
The next edition of the men’s RWC will be held next year in France.