We lost the 2023 contest, we’ve moved on, but still, there must remain the lingering feeling that as the only top tier nation not to host a Rugby World Cup, our time would surely come again.
France will welcome the Rugby World in 2023 instead and while the complexity of international bidding is hard to predict, there would have been a potential opportunity for us to return to the table in 2027 or even 2031.
Now though it appears that Russia is throwing its hat in the ring for the first opportunity which will open for bidding in early 2021 and be announced in 2022.
The prospect of going to a new host country is one of the cards that Ireland would have in its deck but now it is competing against the might of Russia on one side, and on the twin threat of the emerging United States and the more established Argentina to our West.
There will also need to be a balance between the Northern and Southern hemispheres, with Australia declaring its intention to bring the tournament back ‘down under’ for the first time since 2003, in 2027.
Argentina withdrew its bid to host the ’27 tournament, presumably on the basis of a quid pro quo in what would then likely be 2035 with ’27 and ’31 being in the North.
If we are to compete with the vastly larger markets, important in terms of sponsorship as well as the development of the sport, then we will have our work cut out and it might be 2039 before the chance comes around again.
To put that in context, that would also mean a gap of 24 years between England hosting the tournament and it would also be held at a time when Brian O’Driscoll, who played an important role in the 2023 bid would be 60 and all those players currently in the provincial academies would be older than any of the current Ireland squad.