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'Really ideal situation': Thursday is D-day in World Cup bid races

By PA
(Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images )

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The destination of five World Cup tournaments will be confirmed on Thursday when the World Rugby council vote in Dublin on host countries for the upcoming tournaments. While France are geared up to welcome nations from across the globe in 2023, there are several other critical decisions to be made for the men’s and women’s editions in the years to follow.

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England are the frontrunners to host the 2025 Women’s World Cup while Australia look set to host the 2027 Men’s World Cup and the women’s showpiece two years later. The USA is set to be awarded the 2031 and 2033 editions in a move that would help grow the sport in the country, given it does not hold the history and tradition associated with England and Australia when it comes to rugby union.

President Joe Biden expressed his support for USA Rugby’s bid last month with a letter which was part of the material submitted ahead of Thursday’s World Rugby council meeting in Ireland, where a vote followed by a press conference to announce the respective hosts will take place.

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USA international Nick Civetta will be long retired by the time the 2031 World Cup comes around, but he insists his current teammates have a big role to play in America’s bid. In July, the United States face Chile in a two-legged qualifier to decide who will qualify for the 2023 World Cup in France.

Civetta recently helped Oxford University to Varsity success at Twickenham and believes it is imperative that the USA are epresented in France next year. “As a player and as someone who wants to go to this World Cup, I think we have a massive role,” he said.

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“We still have to qualify this summer and we have to show World Rugby we are a serious outfit. Covid was tough on the union, we went two years without a Test match and it absolutely killed our ability to develop players and to prepare ourselves properly for qualification for this World Cup.

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“We are massively looking forward to the opportunity to qualify this summer and there is a huge amount of energy that will go into that. In the long term obviously, it would be massive to get the World Cup. The amount of investment that could flow into the sport in the US during that time frame and the opportunity is massive.

“It comes at a time when the MLR (Major League Rugby) is growing, the quality of play is increasing every week and the visibility. Those two things are aligning really nicely. If we’re able to get the World Cup in the US, it would be a game-changer for the game’s finances. 

“The finances in the US has always been an issue but having a goal that is set in stone nine to ten years down the road should give a lot of investors a lot of confidence and should bring a sea change.”

Former Newcastle and Doncaster second row Civetta recently returned across the Atlantic to link up with Rugby New York, who ply their trade in the MLR – North America’s professional division. While the MLR remains in its infancy, it is part of a long-term strategy to grow rugby in the USA and is heavily linked to the 2031 and 2033 World Cup bids.

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Critics of handing the tournament to a tier-two nation remain vocal but Civetta feels a transformation of the sport akin to what has happened in Japan, hosts of the most recent World Cup, may occur. The chair of the US Rugby Players’ Association added: “If we could have Japan’s trajectory that would be fantastic and a really ideal situation.

“The good thing with having a nine to ten-year time span is money will flow into the MLR but it will also flow into USA Rugby so we will be able to make better commitments to our playing base, be more organised and get guys together more often.

“A big part of the challenge now is getting the time as a national team to prepare and the nice thing about the MLR season is it lines up with our Test fixtures as well so there is never a situation where you are missing the bulk of your guys because they have MLR commitments or there are challenges from clubs.

“If we do get the World Cup it will as well be a huge incentive for players playing in Europe, which there are only four or five, to get them back in the US because the opportunity financially will be much better.”

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