World Rugby is shaking up the way it decides the hosts for the men’s and women’s World Cups and will no longer make a recommendation to council members to decide their vote on risk-based evaluations drawn up with the help of independent experts.
France were awarded the 2023 World Cup despite World Rugby’s board recommending South Africa should host the tournament, a setback that prompted a review into the process. Secrecy will also end because there will be an open electronic vote and the results will be published, a move designed to discourage promises made in return for votes.
World Rugby will from next February invite bids for the 2025 and 2029 women’s World Cups and the 2027 and 2031 men’s tournaments. It is no longer stating a preference for events to be hosted by a single nation and is looking for a repeat of the success it enjoyed in 2015 and 2019 when a major union, England, and an emerging nation, Japan, returned significant profits.
Russia has declared its intention to bid for the 2027 World Cup, along with Australia, while the United States is being encouraged to apply to host the 2031 event as World Rugby seeks to expand its global commercial reach. An independent report this year showed that a host can expect the total economic benefit to be worth up to £2.9bn.
Bill Beaumont, the World Rugby chairman, said: “In my second term, I have strived to implement key governance enhancements that inject further transparency, clarity and consistency into our decision-making processes and Rugby World Cup is at the centre of that strategy as our flagship men’s and women’s event and major driver of revenue.
“This decision will ensure that we are able to advance with a world-class host selection process that will deliver a robust 10-year growth strategy for the sport as we collectively look to rebound from the pandemic and optimise revenue certainty for reinvestment in the sport at all levels.”
The hosts for the four tournaments will be decided in May 2022 and there has already been significant interest in the two women’s World Cups, reflecting the considerable growth in the game in recent years.