USA has entered the bid to host the 2027 Rugby World Cup, scuppering Australia’s position as the frontrunner to get the nod. Before the USA entered the race it was down to Australia and Russia with the former looking all but certain to get the bid.
Overall, USA has launched an ambitious bid campaign for either the 2027 or 2031 Men’s World Cup and at the same time adding a bid for the 2029 Women’s World Cup as well.
The bid follows a feasibility study that was undertaken to assess the suitability of an American-hosted World Cup. Should the USA win the bid it could see Australia lose out on a potential $2.5 billion dollar injection into the economy. But it could also see rugby’s reach expand to new markets in North America which can only be for the betterment of the sport.
Australia, an established powerhouse in the game, has hosted a couple of World Cups already, including the inaugural World Cup which it hosted jointly with New Zealand. The last World Cup held in Australia was in 2003.
Typically, the Rugby World Cup host nation is selected by World Rugby and so far it has usually gone to a country with a rich rugby culture. The first non-Rugby Championship or Six Nations country to host the Rugby World Cup was Japan in 2019.
Australia’s intentions to host the 2027 Rugby World Cup were to be expected given its history in the game and the popularity of rugby in the Australasia region. They launched their bid last month knowing full well it’s a “once in a generation opportunity.”
Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan called it “an exciting day for all Australians” and an “unrivalled opportunity to grow the game”.
Australia’s bid for the Rugby World Cup comes after Brisbane was deemed to be a choice destination for the 2032 Olympics. As well, it follows a slew of events already slated to get underway. Australia is set to host the Twenty20 World Cup next year, football’s Women’s World Cup in 2023 and the British and Irish Lions rugby tour in 2025.
The next World Cup is set to take place in France in two years and New Zealand are the betting favourites to lift the coveted trophy in way-too-early pre-tournament markets. Although the All Blacks didn’t win in 2019 as the short-odds-on-faces then, they’re still widely held to be the best team with a formidable track record of success in the current modern game.
The 2019 defending champions South Africa in the meanwhile are tipped as the fourth best bet, after host nation France and England. The USA, by contrast, are amongst the longshots in the competition with odds that really don’t inspire much optimism at the moment.
USA Rugby is a work in progress both on and off the field, but there’s no doubting their intent and spirit. There’s a clear desire to nourish and grow the sport in North America. Equally, Rugby World is keen to tap into the North American market, whichis one of the most prosperous and desirable sporting markets in the world as evinced by the huge success of its major sports leagues such as NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL toname a few.
Indeed, NFL stakeholders were contacted during the feasibility study to determine their interest in potentially hosting World Cup Rugby games and according to Jim Brown, chief executive of the USA Rugby World Cup bid, the initial response was encouraging.
“Our first way was just to see how interest levels were with those key stakeholders. And we got a resounding positive reaction,” he said. Expanding further Brown claimed 30 host cities and stadiums were interested, all of which are big stadiums such as with capacity of 70,000-plus. MetLife for instance which is the home of both the Giants and Jets has a capacity of 82,500.
NFL stadiums have played host to rugby games in the past with great success. Soldier Field, the home of the Chicago Bears, hosted test matches that featured the All Blacks in 2014 and 2016 in front of sold out crowds. Elsewhere, San Francisco hosted the 2018 Sevens World Cup at Oracle Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants (MLS). In total, over 100,000 fans purportedly attended over the course of thethree-day event.
USA Rugby very nearly went bankrupt a few years ago. So, it’s understandable that it would pin its hopes on hosting one of the next two World Cups that are up for grabs to transform its financial forms. Moreover, it would boost the profile of the game in the country and, in turn, potentially even the nations ranking in the world standings over time. Separately, it would also fall in line with the country’s upcoming event’s calendar that features co-hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup, alongside Canada and Mexico, as well as the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
Jan 30, 2023 0