USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville revealed in the latest RuggaMatrix American show that USA Rugby will likely bid to host the Rugby World Cup for 2023.
The bid might end up being a joint USA-Canada bid, and Melville said during the show that he doubts the USA would get the bid, despite the fact they were asked to apply by the IRB.
However, Melville said, if the USA wants to host as early as 2027, then they need to bid for 2023 now.
Several difficulties present themselves to any hosting nation when dealing with the World Cup. Some of those the USA can handle without difficult; and some would present more of a challenge:
Hotel Capacity. In almost any city, the United States has excellent hotel capacity.
Non-rugby attractions. Many USA cities have natural and man-made attractions that make visiting them a special event for overseas fans.
Transportation infrastructure. The USA’s roads, parking, and air travel are very strong. Some cities have excellent public transportation. Some do not.
Stadiums. The USA is awash in stadiums that would be able to successfully accommodate an international rugby match. The issue here, though, is that the Rugby World Cup is locked in as a fall event, right in the middle of the NFL season, college football season, AND the end of the baseball season. That might mean a non-NFL city would be better-primed to host, but wherever you choose, you would have struggled finding the right dates.
Getting fans to the event. Australia and New Zealand did a good job encouraging local fans, though civic pride as much as anything else, to attend games. In France, the closeness of so many participating countries helped boost attendance. In the USA, that’s going to require a lot of education and marketing to accomplish.
On the other hand, the USA is the mid-point between Europe and Oceania, with Argentina also not that far away.
Organization. The USA doesn’t have the large number of rugby people who can also run events – there are some, and they should be used, but a North America Rugby World Cup LLC would need to bring in some outside help.
What might be fun is to speculate where the venues could be (New Zealand used 11 venues, France 12). Here’s our take:
Toronto. Key team: Canada
Vancouver. Key team: Scotland
Salt Lake City (no NFL team, huge rugby following). Key team: Tonga
San Francisco (two NFL teams, but huge rugby following and sufficient venues). Key team: Samoa
Los Angeles (no NFL team). Key team: None
Chicago. Key team: Ireland
Somewhere in Florida. Key team: Argentina
Denver. You have to have Denver.
Houston. How about playing under the retractable roof at Minute Maid Park? Key team: South Africa
DC. Got to get the President to come, and to do that, have it in DC. Key team: USA.
As Melville said, planning for such an event would have to start very soon, and really the USA (and Canada) would be looking at 2027, a mere 16 years hence.