There was a moment when we could look beyond the horizon to a possibility of the Rugby World Cup coming here in ten years time.

But it looks like it was a mirage.

The IRFU moved yesterday to play down stories emanating from a more positive statement coming from the English RFU that a collaborative bid was being considered.

In a statement issued yesterday, they said “The IRFU wish to clarify that while some preliminary exploratory discussions took place last autumn with the English, Scottish and Welsh Unions about a possible joint bid to host Rugby World Cup 2031 the matter is not being progressed, at this point in time.”

As we outlined yesterday the process for 2031 is a short one with three phases of Dialogue, Candidate and Evaluation taking place between now and a final decision in May of next year.

If ‘at this time’ is to be taken at face value that effectively rules us out of playing a part in any bid.

It is understandable that in the depths of a crisis for the sport and the country the like of which we have never seen, looking at a ‘big picture’ project might seem either insensitive or unrealistic.

Then again maybe that is exactly the right time to dream of a future that will come our way and to imagine ourselves as part of it.

The pace of change of circumstances is such that this does not necessarily need to be a full stop, and it could be that we are being more ambitious and planning a bid on our own for 2035, ending our position as the only major rugby nation not to have hosted a World Cup.

Then again if the British Unions move ahead with greater speed, and mount a winning bid, that would likely extend our waiting period by a further eight or even twelve years.

Sport is based on optimism and hope. It seems a shame that we couldn’t keep this alive for a little bit longer.


Sport for Business Partners