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World Rugby eyes US bid for 2027 World Cup

World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper has called on USA Rugby to put forward a “magnificent bid” for the 2027 World Cup in the wake of San Francisco’s successful staging of the World Cup Sevens tournament.

The 2018 World Cup Sevens was held at the weekend at AT&T Park, with more than 100,000 fans attending the event at the home of Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise San Francisco Giants.

With the sport’s key stakeholders continuing efforts to boost rugby union’s presence in the US, UK newspaper The Independent said that tentative talks took place in San Francisco regarding a future World Cup bid between senior World Rugby officials and members of both USA Rugby and Major League Rugby (MLR).

Speaking to The Independent, Gosper (pictured) said: “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 northern and southern hemispheres, 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.”

In March, World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont confirmed that plans are being discussed to overhaul the bidding process for the World Cup as the governing body seeks to demonstrate that it won’t simply “chase the cash” when assigning future hosting rights.

World Rugby is assessing its options after what proved a highly contentious road to deciding the host of the 2023 World Cup. In November, France landed the rights to the 2023 World Cup, against a recommendation made by the Rugby World Cup Limited (WRCL) Board the previous month. The decision attracted widespread criticism.

South Africa appeared set to land the 2023 World Cup after the RWCL Board unanimously recommended the country’s bid over that of proposals from France and Ireland. The process moved to a vote on November 15 by the World Rugby Council, which comprised a total of 39 votes, with a simple majority required to confirm South Africa as host. The first round of voting saw France gain 18 votes, to 13 for South Africa and eight for Ireland. The second round saw France clinch the World Cup with 24 votes to South Africa’s 15.

If the US does decide to bid for the 2027 World Cup, it will face competition from Australia and Argentina. Gosper said that MLR, which recently completed its inaugural season, will be a significant factor in the wider development of the sport in the US.

The inaugural MLR season, which featured teams based in Austin, Houston, Glendale, New Orleans, San Diego, Seattle and Salt Lake City, got underway in April and concluded this month. The Seattle Seawolves became the league’s first champion with a 23-19 victory over the Glendale Raptors. A Los Angeles team will be joined in MLR next year by Rugby United New York, while a new franchise in Washington, D.C. is hoping to join the league by no later than 2020.

Gosper added: “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. We think that’s a good base which will help the sustainability for strong international players in the US national team.”