Australia is set to host the 2027 Rugby World Cup after being confirmed as the preferred candidate by World Rugby.
The southern-hemisphere nation last staged the tournament in 2003, when England beat the Wallabies in the final. Australia also co-hosted the inaugural 1987 edition with New Zealand.
But the global governing body said in a statement on Wednesday that Australia is the preferred candidate to host the 2027 men’s World Cup and the USA the 2031 showpiece. South Africa, which last hosted the the Rugby World Cup in 1995, is not in the picture.
“All countries have worked closely with World Rugby and other key stakeholders to fulfil the requirements to achieve Preferred Candidate and Exclusive Targeted Dialogue status respectively,” a statement from World Rugby read.
“Alongside the awarding of Preferred Candidate status to England and Australia, the World Rugby Council additionally voted to implement a series of exclusive discussions with the USA in relation to Rugby World Cup 2031 hosting.
“As an emerging rugby market with a 10-year runway to the 2031 tournament, the USA will require a unique and extended approach that will require extensive further dialogue with key stakeholders. This dialogue will take place with a view to developing the most effective hosting model for a Rugby World Cup in North America and the global game in the long-term.”
World Rugby chairperson Bill Beaumont explained the new approach to electing Word Cup hosts: “It’s more flexible and collaborative, with World Rugby working with potential hosts to optimise their World Cup proposals and align them with long-term social and economic development plans for the benefit of their communities and the future expansion of the sport.
“As a result, we are entering into an enhanced relationship with England and Australia as exclusive preferred candidates for 2025 and 2027, respectively, and USA in exclusive targeted dialogue with a view to developing the most effective hosting model.”
Commenting on the news that Australia is the preferred candidate, Rugby Australia chairperson Hamish McLennan said: “We’re a known rugby nation, so we have got a rich heritage.
“Tourists and fans love coming to Australia, so we know we’re a safe pair of hands, will do it professionally and be able to deliver the financial returns to World Rugby.”
McLennan said rugby, by contrast, was a “relatively immature sport” in the United States, who were hammered 104-14 by New Zealand last month.
“You saw the score for the US team against the All Blacks – I think they need time to invest in their team and build their stocks up. At some point it would be great to have it there, but you want it to be a success.
“We’re absolutely committed to this. We’re absolutely keen to put on the most professional event and do a great job for everyone involved in rugby. The support for the game is there in Australia, but what the World Cup would do is put it on steroids.
“It would give us five years to promote the game and also put a lot of government support and investment back into the game. It would take it to another level.”
USA Rugby CEO Ross Young lauded World Rugby’s plan to bring the World Cup to an emerging rugby market: “This is a positive next step for the USA as we elevate exclusive discussions with World Rugby and our stakeholders around a successful campaign for World Cup 2031.
“The United States is an emerging rugby market primed with potential that we’re excited to unlock and strategically partner in the most effective way.
“With USA cities, commissions and stakeholders eager to support a USA-hosted World Cup, this targeted dialogue opens a new door for collaboration and progress, ultimately fueling an optimistic future for USA Rugby and the global game.”