Last month we wrote about the prospect of it being 2039 before Ireland might realistically host a Rugby World Cup. We may have been a little pessimistic.
At that time our thinking was prompted by Russia’s backing of a bid to host in 2027, against the front runner Australia and the other serious bid from Argentina.
Yesterday World Rugby confirmed its desire for a double announcement next time around repeating the success of the joint announcement of England 2015 and Japan 2019.
A blend of the traditional nation with guaranteed success and a chance to grow the game worked out well and the model looks set for a repeat. Australia has said that it fears for the long term future of the sport if it does not get to host in 2027. This is seen as a boost for their hopes though it was a card played by South Africa in its 2023 bid.
In the end, it seems that winning the tournament, rather than the right to host it, might be a better path to long term popularity.
The commercial appeal of breaking America is even more acute in the wake of Covid-19 and that makes them favourites for 2031. This would potentially trip up Argentina’s bid for 2027 and the obvious consolation of 2035.
That sees them go back to 2039 and could open up a window for Ireland in 2035, if we wanted to have a look.
If the US did get 2031 then it would be more likely that it would revert to a traditional rugby nation for the following tournament.
The gap would be 20 years between World Cups in England, 24 for New Zealand and 40 years for South Africa but Ireland remains the only original Rugby nation not to host and surely there would be a desire to set that straight with having come so close to winning the contest to bring the tournament here in 2023.
That now looks like a bullet dodged but we must have the ambition to step up and host. We would also have to contend with a financially powerful Russian bid but it is never going to be easy and if this opportunity passes it could be another 20 years on top before it comes around again.
The bid process for the next two Rugby World Cups in each of the Men’s and Women’s games will open up in 2021. We have a bit of time to get our political ducks in a row,