World Rugby this week launched the dialogue phase of its World Cup bid process as the federation seeks host nations for four different tournaments.
In what is described as an “innovative integrated process” by World Rugby, the women’s 2025 and 2029 tournaments and the men’s 2027 and 2031 events will all be awarded at the same time in May 2022. The first ‘dialogue’ phase opened Sunday allowing interested nations to begin shaping their projects. It will be followed by the ‘candidate’ and ‘evaluation’ phases leading up to the final selections next year.
In a statement, World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said “today represents an important milestone in the future of the sport and is a positive way to accelerate into 2021. We are hugely encouraged by both the interest and level of conversations to date, which reflects the attractiveness of this new approach.”
“Rugby World Cup is all about unity and this process marks a bold, best-practice approach for the sport.
“By awarding four hosts at the same time, the sport will have long-term strategic certainty, enabling us to advance commercial and broadcast partnerships and maximize revenue for reinvestment across our unions and the wider game.”
The winners will be elected by voters from the international federation’s Council by an open electronic vote based an evaluation report that will be published ahead of the May 2022 decision.
There were a number of member unions showing interest in the ‘pre-dialogue’ phase that was designed to inform potential bidders. At least three of the nations have revealed interest in hosting the men’s event including Australia, the United States and Russia. Argentina dropped out of the race last year in order to support the Australian project.
Russia’s involvement in the World Rugby bid is now questionable after the country was sanctioned last year by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for its role in tampering with data from the Moscow laboratory. Among the penalties, Russia may not bid for, or host, any major international sports event until the end of 2022.
The United States has said that it is open to hosting any of the four tournaments up for bid.
According to World Rugby the latest men’s Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019 attracted the biggest-ever domestic broadcast audience for a rugby match of more than 54 million and “it was a special event that united a nation through rugby, friendship and celebration, delivering record social, economic and sporting benefits.”
The 2017 women’s edition staged in Ireland reportedly broke attendance and viewership records, underlining the growth of interest in the sport.
The next women’s tournament will take place in New Zealand later this year and the men’s tournament will be contested in France in 2023.
February 2021 – Dialogue Phase: An opportunity for open communication between World Rugby and unions, governments and other key stakeholders. This will allow potential hosts to understand the business and delivery model, how they will partner with World Rugby and ultimately build a compelling proposal.
May 2021 – Candidate Phase: Candidates will construct their detailed proposals with World Rugby providing ongoing clarification and support to ensure the best-possible model. The phase culminates with candidates submitting Candidate files, hosting agreements and guarantees in January 2022.
February 2022 – Evaluation Phase: Bids will be evaluated by relevant industry experts against the key criteria agreed by World Rugby Council. The evaluation report will be provided to Council for a vote in May 2022.