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USA Rugby announces step towards Rugby World Cup, backed by MLR owners

USA Rugby has announced it will look to make a possible bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2027 or 2031.

Alongside the men’s tournament, USA Rugby will explore a bid to host the women’s competition in 2025 or 2029.

The Rugby World Cup is considered one of the largest sporting events, behind the football World Cup and the international Olympic Games.

A number of stakeholders associated with USA Rugby will study how capable it would be to host a competition of such magnitude, before a planned presentation to World Rugby in February 2021, in the dialogue phase of proceedings.

Major League Rugby (MLR), who has existed for two full seasons and a third which was cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is one of those relevant stakeholders.

“From work to date, we’d expect a Rugby World Cup in North America to be the most-attended, commercially successful in history, introducing millions of new players and fans to the game,” said Ryan Patterson, a co-owner of the San Diego Legion in MLR, to the Guardian.

USA Rugby chief executive, Ross Young, added in a statement: “While preliminary, a study of this nature will be very insightful and ensure appropriate due diligence is performed at every stage of the process.

“This group of stakeholders have the best interest of the American game in mind and this report will offer the opportunity for more productive discussions with World Rugby at the beginning of next year, prior to any decision to continue the bid process.”

The US governing body for Rugby, as of September 1, has emerged from bankruptcy, after the World Rugby Sevens competition in San Francisco in 2018 presented a significant loss for USA Rugby. The body has said it would have no financial obligation to the exploration of a bid.

In a press release, USA Rugby said the study would “focus on objective analysis, financial considerations, technical requirements and stakeholder support across the greater sports landscape. Similar to previous Rugby World Cup host unions, objective analysis will include legacy of the tournament and positive impact for the game of rugby in the United States.”

Jim Brown, who was a part of the team who successfully acquired the 2026 FIFA World Cup for US-Mexico-Canada, will head the project for USA Rugby.

After a successful Rugby World Cup in Japan 2019, World Rugby view the US as a possible host for 2031, to help grow the sport further in a region whose sports markets are some of the most wealthy in the world.

Author: Jake Wilkin