World Rugby are determined to see the United States host the Rugby World Cup in the not too distant future after a successful first foray into San Francisco with the Sevens edition, with chief executive Brett Gosper calling on USA Rugby to put forward a “magnificent bid”.
The process to award the 2027 World Cup is due to begin within the next two years, with a decision expected around 2021, and with Japan set to play hosts next year before France do four years later, the likelihood is that the hosts would need to be based outside of Europe.
With World Rugby determined to break into the American market – having taken international test matches to Chicago and Washington in the past – last weekend’s successful Sevens World Cup at AT&T Park was the latest step towards the full Rugby World Cup being handed to the US. More than 100,000 fans flooded into the 41,915-capacity AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants baseball team, with supporters fully engaging in the matches and proving why rugby union is on the rise across the Pond.
“Hitting 100,000 is terrific, it’s a hugely supported tournament in San Francisco itself and people have come here and really embraced the event,” said Gosper. “The magnificent stadium here has played its roll too and it’s been great that we’ve virtually filled it over the three days, so we’re thrilled about it.”
Speaking to The Independent, Gosper added: “I think this is obviously going to be a destination for the World Cup one day. It’s up to USA Rugby to organise themselves and put forward a magnificent bid. There’s a big queue of countries looking to host it, both north and south hemisphere, so we would love to see them put in a very strong bid and we know they’re very capable of it. I can’t really put a date on that but we’d be excited by an American bid.”
Of course, USA Rugby must get its house in order first. A lawsuit filed against the governing body and individuals associated with it by the founder of the now-defunct Pro Rugby, Doug Schoninger, plus widespread changes at the top of the board has set the union back of late, but a first victory over a tier one nation in the form of the 30-29 victory over Scotland this summer.
There’s also the successful first season of Major League Rugby, which will expand from seven to a planned 10 teams by 2020. With significant funding behind it, MLR is likely to play a big part in bringing the World Cup to the US, while also achieving its main aim of keeping the best American talent in the country and improving the national team as a result.
“I think MLR is an exciting concept because it allows a greater number of top American players to develop and stay in the country, and that can only improve the performance of the national team, which of course improves the availability of money and funding,” Gosper added. “We think that’s a good base that will help the sustainability for strong international players in the US national team.”
The Independent understands that tentative talks took place in San Francisco at the weekend regarding a future bid between senior World Rugby officials and members of both USA Rugby and MLR shareholders, though the creation of the necessary World Cup bidding team remains some way off.
But with the World Cup already destined for new territory in Japan and the United States very much on the horizon, World Rugby’s global expansion is continuing at pace.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies