• England named Preferred Candidate for Rugby World Cup 2025
  • Australia named Preferred Candidate for Rugby World Cup 2027
  • Exclusive targeted dialogue to continue with the USA in relation to Rugby World Cup 2031 and a women’s edition in the future
  • Discussions ongoing with a number of interested parties regarding Rugby World Cup 2029 hosting
  • Revised approach built on business partnerships to unlock new revenue streams and maximise financial and social outcomes for hosts
  • New model will accelerate the sport’s global ambitions 
  • Final hosting rights to be awarded by Council in May 2022

The World Rugby Council has approved revisions to the Rugby World Cup host selection process, awarding exclusive Preferred Candidate status to England for Rugby World Cup 2025 and Australia for Rugby World Cup 2027 while confirming USA will enter into exclusive targeted dialogue for Rugby World Cup 2031 within a model that focuses on building meaningful partnerships between World Rugby and potential host countries. All countries have worked closely with World Rugby and other key stakeholders to fulfil the requirements to achieve Preferred Candidate and Exclusive Targeted Dialogue status respectively.

The reforms follow a full review of the host selection process, the objectives for Rugby World Cup and the current global environment to ensure the international federation is in step with a rapidly changing world. They will deliver greater alignment between future Rugby World Cup hosts and World Rugby’s long-term goals, while delivering an exceptional experience for players and fans. Ultimately, the new model will supercharge the global growth of the sport into new markets, attracting new fans and participants.

The Preferred Candidate process will introduce a new philosophy for invited potential hosts to present a flexible approach with hosting proposals that best fit their sporting, economic, social and environmental planning needs rather than trying to fit the local context to a set Rugby World Cup hosting model. The ultimate goal is to create a delivery model that maximises financial and operational efficiencies, while unlocking greater value for hosts and global rugby development, with a strong emphasis on building sustainable relationships with host countries and broadening fan and commercial appeal. The new Rugby World Cup model will see World Rugby take more direct responsibility for the delivery of the pinnacle events.

The collaborative approach is in line with the ‘game-changer’ objectives of World Rugby’s strategic plan to provide hosting certainty for Rugby World Cup and stimulate the dynamic development of rugby globally. World Rugby will work with Preferred Candidates to set robust strategic objectives and build efficiencies of delivery and resourcing, helping to reduce hosting costs from the outset, while maximising revenue and delivery opportunities. All of which will lead to even greater direct investment back into the game at all levels.

The awarding of Preferred Candidate status follows extensive dialogue with interested nations over the last year. It comes with the full support of the respective unions and key financial commitments from their governments and will enable the sport to move forward with a clear 10-year roadmap. Final hosting rights will be awarded by Council in May 2022.

Alongside the awarding of Preferred Candidate status to England and Australia, the World Rugby Council additionally voted to implement a series of exclusive discussions with the USA in relation to Rugby World Cup 2031 hosting. As an emerging rugby market with a 10-year runway to the 2031 tournament, the USA will require a unique and extended approach that will require extensive further dialogue with key stakeholders. This dialogue will take place with a view to developing the most effective hosting model for a Rugby World Cup in North America and the global game in the long-term.

Discussions will continue with a number of interested parties regarding hosting the women’s edition of Rugby World Cup in 2029.

World Rugby Chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont commented: “The new approach to electing Rugby World Cup hosts is more flexible and collaborative, with World Rugby working with potential hosts to optimise their Rugby World Cup proposals and align them with long-term social and economic development plans for the benefit of their communities and the future expansion of the sport. As a result, we are entering into an enhanced relationship with England and Australia as exclusive Preferred Candidates for 2025 and 2027 respectively, and USA in exclusive targeted dialogue with a view to developing the most effective hosting model.”

World Rugby Chief Executive, Alan Gilpin added: “We must continue to keep up with the fast pace of change in our current world and provide value for our future host nations and unions. Flexibility is a necessity to ensure good governance and to have successful sustainable men’s and women’s Rugby World Cups. We will do that while maintaining the personality of our events and our commitment to having players and fans at the heart of everything we do.”

RFU CEO Bill Sweeney said: “We are delighted to have been awarded Preferred Candidate status for Rugby World Cup 2025. Hosting it will be incredible, our ambition is to stage the best attended women’s RWC ever, with nationwide qualifiers and a sellout final at Twickenham Stadium. We are looking forward to working with World Rugby and Government to make this happen. We will now focus all our bidding efforts on securing these games and wish Australia and the USA every success with their plans to host future Rugby World Cups.

“Women’s rugby is growing exponentially and securing RWC 2025 will significantly support our aggressive growth targets for the women’s game while further advancing all women’s sport. In addition, Rugby World Cup will deliver significant economic and legacy returns for the whole country.”

Rugby Australia Chairman Hamish McLennan said: “We welcome today’s announcement and thank the World Rugby Council for the trust they have demonstrated in the team at Rugby Australia and the vision for Australia 2027. 

“We look forward to working with our colleagues at World Rugby over the coming months to develop the model for Rugby World Cup 2027. This is an exciting opportunity to shape a tournament which will continue the growth of our great game across Australia, the Pacific and globally and showcase our country to the world.

“I’d like to thank the entire Rugby Australia team, notably the Executive, Board and RWC Bid Advisory Board including Sir Rod Eddington and Phil Kearns for their strong stewardship throughout this process. I'd also like to acknowledge the Australian Government for their incredible support of our bid to date.”

USA Rugby Chief Executive, Ross Young said: “This is a positive next step for the USA as we elevate exclusive discussions with World Rugby and our stakeholders around a successful campaign for Rugby World Cup 2031. The United States is an emerging rugby market primed with potential that we’re excited to unlock and strategically partner in the most effective way. With USA cities, commissions and stakeholders eager to support a USA-hosted Rugby World Cup, this targeted dialogue opens a new door for collaboration and progress, ultimately fuelling an optimistic future for USA Rugby and the global game.”

The revised model builds on the success of a future host selection process that has attracted credible and sustainable bids that show the clear potential to deliver excellent outcomes for both the hosts and the game. With Japan 2019 delivering record economic and societal outcomes and delivering new commercial partners through to 2023 and beyond and France 2023 set to smash all previous ticket sales, commercial and broadcast records, Rugby World Cup is an attractive proposition for governments and national unions.

Meanwhile, the women’s edition will be the jewel in the crown of an exciting new global calendar from 2023 with the introduction of WXV set to revolutionise the competition, competitiveness and fan attraction landscape. The 2025 tournament will expand to 16 teams. The 2021 edition, playing in 2022, in New Zealand will raise the bar after global successes in Ireland, France and England, and has attracted huge ticket demand.

Related links: The economic and social impact of hosting Rugby World Cup