The United States will host the Rugby World Cup for the first time

Rugby’s biggest tournament is finally heading to the United States.

Now comes the hard part for the sport’s leadership: generating enough interest and stability to secure rugby’s place in the crowded American market.

The Rugby World Cup will be staged in the US for the first time since voting on Thursday as the host of the men’s event in 2031 and the women’s tournament two years later.

It marked rugby’s first attempt to move into the wider American sporting consciousness and regards world rugby – the global governing body – as an area of ​​untapped potential, both in a commercial and sporting sense.

Bill Beaumont, president of World Rugby, described America as “the golden nugget that everybody wants to hold”.

“What we will leave in America,” he said, “is an extremely durable, vibrant sport that will go from strength to strength.”

USA Rugby’s vision is a nationwide membership that will quadruple to 450,000 by 2031, a number of stadiums staging “coast-to-coast” matches – there are approximately 25 venue bids, including NFL and MLS arenas – and significant investments in domestic Major League Rugby so that The USA Eagles should have a competitive team for 2031.

Then again, the on-field quality of the World Cup puts rugby itself in such a good light that people are tempted to play rugby and watch the game on TV.

“This is an invitation to increase our level of awareness, to grow the fan base of our sport,” said Victoria Folayan, who played Sevens Rugby for the US and is USA Rugby’s athlete representative. “The doors are opening. Being able to take that step is just the beginning.”

To that end, World Rugby’s experience of taking its men’s showpiece tournament to Asia for the first time in 2015 – when Japan was the host – will be crucial in preparing the US for its debut. Not only the public, but also the national team.

While the women’s team won the inaugural World Cup in 1991 and reached the finals in the next two events, the men’s Eagles never went out of the pool stage at the World Cup and were basically the world’s top teams out of play annually. Went. base.

This is something that World Rugby is looking at in its ongoing efforts to shake up the men’s international calendar so that emerging nations like the United States get more opportunities.

Hosting the two World Cups would cost approximately $500 million, and profits and losses would be shared between World Rugby and USA Rugby, which recently filed for bankruptcy as of 2020.

The bid received support from the White House, with US President Joe Biden sending a letter to World Rugby last month offering government guarantees and his support for “the development of rugby in the United States”.

The Men’s Rugby World Cup is considered the third largest sporting event in some parts of the world, after the Football World Cup and the Summer Olympics.

The United States is hosting all three events over a five-year period from 2026, starting with that year’s Men’s Football World Cup – with Mexico and Canada as co-hosts – and then in 2028 in Los Angeles. Olympics.

For the first time, World Rugby used a streamlined bidding process to enable it to announce the hosts of all World Cups until 2025–33 for both men and women.

Sydney Harbor Bridge lit up in green and gold after Australia were awarded the men’s World Cup in 2027 and the women’s tournament in 2029. The men’s World Cup is returning to Australia for the first time since 2003.

It is being seen as an opportunity to rejuvenate rugby in the country as the World Cup follows the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia in 2025, providing much needed revenue to its governing body – Rugby Australia – Which was badly affected by the pandemic. ,

Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marino called it “the beginning of a new era for Australian rugby”.

“Australia will become the center of the rugby world over the next decade,” he said, “and that’s incredibly exciting.”

The 2027 tournament will mark the 40th anniversary of Australia and New Zealand hosting the first Rugby World Cup in 1987.

England was announced as the host of the Women’s World Cup in 2025.

More Associated Press Rugby: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80

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