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Australia shaping as front runner to host 2027 World Cup with USA primed for 2031 tournament

The Rugby World Cup could be set to return to the southern hemisphere for the first time in 16 years as Australia appears to lead the race as favourites to host the tournament in 2027.

Additionally, the ground-breaking prospect of the United States as a potential host nation has also emerged, with the world’s 17th-ranked union reportedly eyeing to hold the event in 12 years’ time.

Rugby Australia have already indicated their interest in hosting the 2027 tournament, as former chief executive Bill Pulver announced the union’s intentions on hosting the event two years ago.

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Joining them in the race to hold the tournament is Argentina and Russia, while other nations such as South Africa and the United States have been speculated as potential bidders.

The host nations for both the 2027 and 2031 tournaments will be announced by World Rugby next November, and given that the 2023 World Cup will be held in France – making them the third consecutive nation to hold the spectacle in the northern hemisphere – a move south of the equator could very well be on the table.

Speaking to the BBC, Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney said that makes Australia an attractive proposition as a host country given their prominence within the global rugby landscape.

“You would think 2027 would need to go somewhere southern hemisphere,” he said.

“Australia is a really important rugby nation, who have had some financial challenges.

“Anything that World Rugby can do to support the game in Australia would be supported by all of us, I think.”

Holding a World Cup in Australia could have the potential to spur a revival of rugby in the country, which has faced a number of challenges on and off the field in recent years.

Those issues contributed to the Wallabies’ dismal 2019 World Cup campaign, where they were dumped out of the competition in a 40-16 quarter-final defeat at the hands of England.

The side’s outgoing head coach Michael Cheika said during the tournament that Australia would “kill it” if his country was given the responsibility of holding the World Cup for a third time, after co-hosting the 1987 event and acting as sole hosts in 2003.

“If there’s one [thing] we like to do at home and that’s put on a good show; we’ve got so many sports fans there,” he said last month.

“It was 2003 wasn’t it, the one in Australia? A great place for people, I feel like I’m working for the tourism board here, but it’s a place you want to come for a holiday, too.

“The players won’t be coming for a holiday but the spectators [would love it], and you’ve seen how many there are in all the stadiums.

“If I lived overseas and I was a foreigner, it would be the one place I’d want to go to watch a World Cup, that’s for sure…it’d be big for the whole game if the World Cup was played in Australia, without a doubt.”

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Hosting the 2027 tournament in the southern hemisphere could also spell good news for South Africa, who put forward hosting right bids for the 2011, 2015, 2019 and 2023 events, but to no avail.

Buoyed by the Springboks’ recent World Cup glory, the South African Rugby Union are said to be considering yet another bid for one of the next two tournaments, but no confirmation of an official application has yet been heard.

While it’s unlikely that the USA will hold the World Cup in 2027 due for the need for the tournament to return to the southern hemisphere, an application for the 2031 event could see them become the first country in the Americas to hold the spectacle.

Hosting the World Cup four years later would also the tournament avoid being sandwiched between the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which the USA is set to co-host alongside Canada and Mexico, and the 2028 Olympic Games, to be held in Los Angeles.

World Rugby is desperate to tap into the lucrative North American market, and following the success of Japan in becoming the first Asian country to hold a World Cup this year, it seems inevitable that the USA will be involved as a host nation in the coming years.

Waiting an additional four years for the tournament to be held in the United States would allow for rugby to develop and hype around the event to build for longer, with Sweeney adding to the BBC that there was “a massive opportunity for the game to kick off” in the country.

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Australia shaping as front runner to host 2027 World Cup with USA primed for 2031 tournament