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World Rugby makes ambitious 'do what we say on the tin' promise

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

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World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin has insisted his organisation is doing everything it can to ensure that the likes of second-tier nations such as the USA, the newly confirmed 2031 World Cup hosts, will be competitively up to speed in time to shine on the big stage. 

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Talks were held in Dublin this week at World Rugby council level about the potential for establishing a Nations Championship to give the Test windows outside of the main World Cup, Six Nations and Rugby Championship windows more relevance.

Attempts to launch the biennial format between teams from the northern and southern hemispheres were unsuccessful three years ago but there are now fresh hopes that a new tournament would begin in 2026 and take place outside of World Cup and Lions years.  

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No formalised arrangement is expected until World Rugby’s executive committee next meets in November, but World Rugby chief Gilpin hinted that progress has been made in Dublin this week where it was confirmed that Australia and the USA will respectively host the 2027 and 2031 men’s World Cups and that England, Australia and the USA will respectively host the 2025, 2029 and 2033 women’s World Cups. 

“There is huge amount of work going on in the men’s 15s about how do we make not only the content we have in the international windows more meaningful for everybody and engage more fans and get people excited about that, but how do we make sure that the USAs, the Japans, the Fijis, the Uruguays and that next group of emerging nations get the competition that they need and deserve to make them more competitive in the big moments. 

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“That is a massive focus for us. There are a lot of positive conversations continuing, there is great momentum behind that. There is recognition of the need for that across the game and from the World Rugby perspective, we look at a ten-year plus plan which is all about driving investment towards that. 

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“This is all about making sure we do what we say on the tin, that we deliver a global game for everybody. That is why we are making the decision we are making.”

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