The United States will stage a Rugby World Cup for the first time after being voted as the host of the men’s tournament in 2031 and the women’s tournament two years later.
World Rugby announced the host nations for all the World Cups from 2025-33 after a meeting of its council in Dublin on Thursday, with Australia also staging back-to-back tournaments in 2027 (men) and 2029 (women).
In 2016, rugby returned to the Olympics for the first time since 1924, though the Olympic version is rugby sevens, which differs from the 15-per-side Rugby World Cup. The U.S. hosted the men’s and women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens for the first time in 2018 in San Francisco.
The sport is breaking new ground by taking the men’s 15-a-side tournament — World Rugby’s most lucrative asset — to North America, with the governing body regarding it as an area of untapped potential in both a commercial and sporting sense. The women’s World Cup was played in Canada in 2006.
USA Rugby chief executive Ross Young described the decision as a “paradigm-shifting catalyst for the growth of our sport, not only here in the United States but around the world.”
“USA Rugby will now venture into a new era,” Young added, “and ensure the sport’s most treasured event is a springboard for creating lasting, sustainable enthusiasm and passion for rugby from coast to coast.”
Hosting the two World Cups will cost around $500 million, with profits and losses shared between World Rugby and USA Rugby. More than 20 American cities are potential hosts for World Cup matches, USA Rugby has said.
The bid received support from the White House, with U.S. President Joe Biden sending a letter to World Rugby last month giving governmental guarantees and his backing for the “development of rugby in the United States.”
The men’s Rugby World Cup is regarded in some parts of the world as the third biggest sporting event, after the soccer World Cup and the Summer Olympics.
The United States is hosting all three events in a five-year span from 2026, starting with the men’s soccer World Cup that year — with Mexico and Canada as co-hosts — and then the Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028.
“The unparalleled growth made possible by bringing the world’s third-largest sports event and the fastest growing women’s event to the world’s largest sports market cannot be overstated,” USA Rugby said.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge was lit up in green and gold after World Rugby’s announcement, which sees the men’s tournament returning to Australia for the first time since 2003.
It is being viewed as a chance to rejuvenate rugby in the country as the World Cups come after the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia in 2025, bringing much-needed revenue to its governing body — Rugby Australia — that was badly hit by the pandemic.
Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos called it “the start of a new era for Australian Rugby.”
“Australia will become the center of the rugby world over the next decade,” he said, “and that is incredibly exciting.”
The 2027 tournament will be the 40th anniversary of Australia and New Zealand hosting the first Rugby World Cup in 1987.
For the first time, World Rugby is using a new partnership hosting model as part of a streamlined bid process. Australia had already been named as the “preferred candidate” for the 2027 and ’29 tournaments while the United States had entered “exclusive targeted dialogue” with World Rugby for the 2031 men’s tournament.
England was announced as the host of the women’s World Cup in 2025.
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