United States eye World Cup bid
December 2, 2011
USA Rugby chief Nigel Melville is excited by the prospect of hosting the Rugby World Cup © Getty Images
The United States are planning to bid for the rights to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup with Canada likely co-hosts for the tournament.
USA rugby chief executive Nigel Melville has revealed that they had been asked to bid to host the sport's biggest competition for the first time, but did not say by whom. "We were asked during the World Cup whether we would be prepared to bid for 2023," Melville said. "I know it seems like a very long way away for us all but we have to start those processes now so we are having a discussion about that.
"Also Canada are interested in some sort of joint bid … could we do it together as North America? There would be opportunities in Toronto and Vancouver, and obviously bringing the tournament to North America would be a tremendous boost for us all."
The USA Eagles have appeared in six of the seven World Cups, including the recently concluded tournament in New Zealand, where they beat Russia but failed to advance from their pool. Russia have already said they will bid to host the 2023 tournament and Melville said that he believed the US might be more successful in winning the right to stage the 2027 tournament.
"Discussions are taking place and I get the feel that if we bid for 2023 we might not get it but in 2027 we might, but I don't think we will get 27 if we don't bid in 23. I think we have to start putting the wheels in motion now to bid for the World Cup; that way we can certainly put ourselves on the map as serious contenders."
The World Cup will be hosted by England in 2015 and then Japan in 2019, the first time the tournament will be staged outside either Europe or the southern hemisphere. Melville said a bid represented an opportunity to drive interest in the sport in America where rugby struggles for attention behind American Football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey.
"It is something we should be looking at. You need to look strategically at where we want rugby to be - would we be able to cope with it, have we got the infrastructure, have we got the stadia and the big question would be could we fill the stadiums?"
However, the inclusion of rugby sevens in the Olympics for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro has led to increased focus and funding for the sport in America. USA Rugby said that it would be able to offer 23 full-time contracts to sevens players from January after striking a deal with the United States Olympic Committee on Wednesday.
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