With the full support of the White House, an American bid to stage the men's and women's Rugby World Cups is expected to receive the green light on Thursday as the sport looks to break new ground.
World Rugby, the sport's governing body, will announce the host nations for the men's and women's World Cups for the period 2025-2033, a total of five tournaments.
The United States are set to be awarded the men’s tournament in 2031 — marking the first time it will be staged in North or South America — and the women’s tournament in 2033. Canada hosted the Women’s World Cup in 2006.
World Rugby entered what it described as “exclusive targeted dialogue" with the United States last year, with chief executive Alan Gilpin saying in March: "We strategically believe we can deliver the right outcomes with this hosting plan.”
Using a new partnership hosting model, World Rugby wants to give the same country back-to-back World Cups, believing it will “underpin the growth of the sport.”
The American market is regarded by World Rugby as an area of untapped potential, in both a commercial and sporting sense.
The 2015 men’s World Cup in Japan was the first to be held in Asia, and taking the sport’s showpiece to the United States would be another step toward establishing a new market for rugby. In some parts of the world, the men's tournament — held every four years — ranks No. 3 in global sports events behind the Olympics and the soccer World Cup.
About two dozen American cities are potential hosts for World Cup matches in 2031 and ’33, USA Rugby has said.
President Joe Biden sent a letter to World Rugby last month, declaring his support for the American bids and for the “development of rugby in the United States.” The president gave “governmental guarantees” for the staging of the tournaments.
“On behalf of the people of the United States, I am pleased to offer my wholehearted support of this bid,” he wrote.
The American bid will cost around half a billion dollars, with profits and losses shared between World Rugby and USA Rugby.
If the bid is successful, the Rugby World Cups will follow the country’s staging of the men’s soccer World Cup in 2026 and the summer Olympics in 2028.
Australia is heavily favored to be awarded the men’s Rugby World Cup in 2027 and the women’s tournament in 2029, having received “preferred candidate” status by World Rugby in November. England will likely be announced as the host nation for the women’s World Cup in 2025.