U.S. launches bid to host Rugby World Cup with Vancouver as possible host city

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The U.S. has launched a bid to host both the men's and women's Rugby World Cup with Vancouver billed as a potential host city.

Wednesday's public launch of the bid comes on the eve of the U.S. Eagles playing a high-profile test match against the All Blacks on Saturday in the inaugural 1874 Cup at FedEx Field in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. bid is to host the men's tournament in 2027 or 2031 and the women’s event in 2029, making the first time a bid group has sought to host both competitions together. If successful, it would also mark the first time a men’s Rugby World Cup has been held in North or South America. Canada hosted the women's World Cup in 2006.

The bid group includes Vancouver in a list of cities under consideration for participation.

Asked about Vancouver's inclusion, a Rugby Canada spokeswoman said: "Rugby Canada is co-ordinating with the U.S.A. bid committee on information collection for Vancouver around B.C. Place. The bid is still in its early stages, and further details regarding the bid and Vancouver’s involvement will be released as they come available."

B.C. Place Stadium has drawn sizable crowds for the Canada Sevens, Canada's stop on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. The two-day event drew total attendance of 77,096 in 2018.

The U.S. bid group says others cities interested in hosting are Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Baltimore; Birmingham, Ala.; Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Cincinnati; Dallas; Denver; Houston; Indianapolis; Kansas City, Mo.; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Miami; Minneapolis; Nashville, Tenn.; New Orleans; New York/New Jersey; Orlando, Fla.; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Pittsburgh; San Diego; San Francisco Bay Area; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.

A USA Rugby spokesman said the bid group anticipates 10-12 host cities for the men's tournament and six to eight for the women's. The winning bid group selects the host cities in partnership with Rugby World Cup and World Rugby officials.

“A Rugby World Cup in the United States is a turning point for the game,” USA Rugby CEO Ross Young said in a statement. “An exciting, unique, global sporting event of this scale on American soil for the first time has the potential to bring tried and true rugby fans, new supporters of the sport, U.S. fans and fans from around the world together through our great game.

"The Rugby World Cup also presents an incredible opportunity to unite our rugby communities and truly grow the sport from youth programs to our senior national teams — injecting fan support and financial interest and creating a new generation of American rugby players.”

France beat out South Africa and Ireland to host the 2023 men's World Cup. New Zealand is hosting the next women's World Cup, which has been pushed back a year to 2022 due to the pandemic.

World Rugby has said the hosts of the 2025 and 2029 women’s events and 2027 and 2031 men’s events will be decided by the World Rugby Council in May 2022. Candidates will have to candidates submit hosting agreements and guarantees in January 2022.

Australia is seen as a leading candidate for the men's tournament in 2027 with England a contender for 2031. Russia has said it is interested in both.

World Rugby has suggested awarding bids for two World Cups simultaneously would allow the sport's governing body to consider an established rugby nation for one and an emerging nation for the other.

In 2009, World Rugby awarded England and Japan the 2015 and 2019 men's tournaments, respectively.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 20, 2021

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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