Powered By Blogger

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Hosting a RWC in the States: Operation 2031

Big Voicemail Show. Thanks to the best callers in the Rugby Universe .... remember, if you ever want to pop off and speak your mind, dial 720-259-8825.

Mike from Chicago

"Hey this is Mike from Chicago, an old rugger. You probably heard that the rich rugby folks in the US are trying to put together an investment group in order to position the US to bid of either the 2027 or 2031 Rugby World Cup. I got two questions...

Isn't USA Rugby broke and in bankruptcy?

Where would the World Cup final be held? 

My vote would be for Chicago, at Soldier Field, because it's the greatest city in America. 

Rugger out. Old Mike From Chicago"

We appreciate the couple of good questions from
 "Old Mike from Chicago".

The investment group is called Rugby Growth Investments (RGI). In the words of San Diego Legion (and Utah Warriors) co-owner Ryan Patterson it will function as a "strategic capital partner" for MLR, USA Rugby and World Rugby in order to "fast-track community, commercial & high-performance system preparation for a RWC in North America in 2027 or 2031.

This sounds like something that has been needed for a long time. Mike is right when he brings up the point that USA Rugby has just come through bankruptcy proceedings. It's hard to think that an organization can go from bankruptcy to hosting the third largest sporting event in the world (FIFA World Cup & Summer Olympics are the only bigger events in terms of total ticket sales and TV ratings), but stranger things have happened. Finance is an art, not a science. Part of the reason USA Rugby ended up filing for bankruptcy in 2020 isn't because of the pandemic, it's from years (if not decades) of financial mismanagement. If they are able to right the ship and show financial stability and growth in the years to come (not to mention securing a bid similar to the 2026 FIFA World Cup), then we could potentially see ourselves as hosts one day (let's hope so).

Here's where RGI comes in. Having a "strategic capital partner" (it's fun to put vague, corporate-sounding terms in quotations) whose role is to try to boost the commercial aspect of the sport here in the US will be massively beneficial on all levels. Will we actually get our shit together to the point where we can win a bid to host a Rugby World Cup? We have to see how effective groups like RGI are at driving corporate sponsors to open up their wallets and back the sport.

As far as which year would be most optimal, my vote is for 2031. Here's the list of world cup hosts...

Attendance figures
YearHost(s)Total attendanceMatchesAvg attendance% change
in avg att.
Stadium capacityAttendance as
% of capacity
1987Australia Australia
New Zealand New Zealand
1991England England
France France
Ireland Ireland
Scotland Scotland
Wales Wales
1995South Africa South Africa1,100,0003234,375+9%1,423,85077%
1999Wales Wales1,750,0004142,683+24%2,104,50083%
2003Australia Australia1,837,5474838,282–10%2,208,52983%
2007France France2,263,2234847,150+23%2,470,66092%
2011New Zealand New Zealand1,477,2944830,777–35%1,732,00085%
2015England England2,477,8054851,621+68%2,600,74195%
2019Japan Japan1,698,52845†37,745–27%1,811,86690%
2023France FranceTo be determined48To be determined

Australia has already put forth a strong bid for 2027. They have not hosted the tournament since 2003.

When France hosts in 2023, it will have been 3 straight northern hemisphere countries in a row. Japan was probably the riskiest host so credit to World Rugby. But ... France will be a second time host in 2023 and England has also hosted 2. 

Note to Bill "Boomer" Beaumont and his sidekick henchman Bernard Laporte:   "Us non-Europeans would like some non-European RWCs".

So, the southern hemisphere is due to host in 2027...

(well, you'd hope so, but the Beaumont cabinet already pushed an election through right when the pandemic was taking hold of the globe and won against the young Argentinian firecracker Agustin Pichot ... so I wouldn't put them past nominating another Six Nations country as the 4th consecutive Northern Hemisphere RWC host. But I digress...)

So the southern hemisphere is due to host in 2027 ...

NZ hosted in 2011. Argentina withdrew their 2027 bid to support their southern hemisphere partners Rugby Australia. South Africa can't seem to put a new bid together after throwing everything into hosting in 2023 (France was selected, but let's be honest ... they threw down some serious cash to make that happen). 

Here is Russia's plan for the 2027 RWC. Looks a tad confusing eh? 😦

Don't forget about Russia who put in a bid to host 2023 as well ... (they built all those stadiums for Sochi and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, so Vladdy Poots is looking to fill them again). The US Men's Soccer didn't even qualify for the tournament ... (can you imagine if that happened to the Eagles in the Rugby world? The American old boy ruggers would be dropping "back in my day"s until the rooster crowed.)

So that leaves USA Rugby with the choice of bidding against Australia for 2027, or to go against the field for 2031. England is expected to bid for 2031 (I'm not surprised considering how power/money hungry the RFU is), but for fuck sake it would be their 3rd time hosting and 2nd time within a 16 year cycle. Are the English blind to the fact that the sport would probably grown faster if they didn't continually award themselves World Cups?

Let's hope that the extra 4 years (2031 instead of 2027) allows groups like RGI and whoever the hell is running USA Rugby these days (the board has flipped more times that one can follow over the past few years) can use strategically placed working capital to fuel growth over the next few years.

So if the US host in 2031, where should the final be held?

The Eagles got thrashed by the AB's back in 2016, but Soldier Field sold out for the occasion. 

Chicago does have a rich rugby history and would definitely be in the running to host a QF, SF, or Final. Unfortunately, it is a game of potential revenue .... and Soldier Field has the smallest seat capacity of ALL 32 NFL stadiums at 61,500 seats.

My guess is the bid committee is already working on building relationships with Stan Kroenke to potentially use his new LA mexaplex (is that even a word?) SoFi Stadium which just finished construction for the 2020 NFL season.

L.A. is a safe bet. They've got good weather (usually), celebs and a "destination" factor (Hollywood, beaches, expensive hipster bars, etc...). There would be wealthy rugby fans that would pay out the ass, a REDICULOUS amount of money for a semi-final or final. 

If they were smart, they'd secure the rights to use the iconic Rose Bowl. 92,000 fans would be a spectacle.

We are a long way away from securing the 2031 bid, but Rugby Growth Investments is a good start.

As long as Britain doesn't host another RWC and condemn the future international growth of Rugby Union, I'll be happy. May the best bidder win.



  1. 92k fans for a rugby match in America is ambitious, but I like it!

    1. @Ben the upside to the ROSE BOWL is that every seat in the house is a good one. They could (they never would, but they could) lower the price from $100 a ticket to just $40 and sell the place out. Imagine not having to draw against your mortgage just to go to a RWC final?