Throughout the history of the World Cup, its hosts have all been prestigious rugby playing countries. From the very first World Cup in 1987 hosted by Australia and New Zealand, the tournament has been held by all of the top rugby playing nations including France, South Africa, Wales, and Australia again. With two more big rugby playing countries ready to host the tournament in New Zealand in 2011 and England in 2015, isn’t it about time the tournament was held in a lesser rugby playing country?
Admittedly rugby has not been a professional sport for anywhere near as long as football, therefore not as many countries are willing to play it as one of their top sports. But if the IRB is serious about attempting to try and widen the scope of rugby in these countries such as the smaller European nations, then maybe it should look at the possibilities. Obviously these countries don’t have the rugby stadiums to hold such an event, yet there are many other countries that have certainly proved their worth in terms of hosting big rugby matches. The first country that springs to mind is China, in the shape of Hong Kong. For the last two Tri Nations competitions, the Bledisloe Cup has been held there, and has had a sell-out crowd on both occasions.
Japan is set to hold the World Cup in 2019, yet the recent Earthquake and Tsunami has clearly put a halt to their preparations. Could there be a late change in the proceedings for that particular event?
With Japan being offered that World Cup, are there not other countries that have proved their worth in the rugby world through their performances? Perhaps Italy are likely to host a World cup soon… within the next two decades anyway. The Italian Rugby Union, having recently beaten France in the thrilling match in Rome in the Six Nations, and with more and more Italian teams progressing in the European theatre, would surely feel like they deserve a chance to host one of the largest sporting competitions in the world.
If not Italy, why not Argentina? The Argentinean rugby team have excelled massively in the last ten years gracing the Heineken Cup competition with excellent players such as Felipe Contepomi, Marcus Ayerza, Juan Martine Hernandez, Ledesma and possibly one of the greatest scrum halves of all time, Pichot . The Pumas also are pushing vigorously for a place in the Tri Nations competition containing arguably the best three teams in the world, clearly showing that they feel they can compete at such a level.
Perhaps the IRB feel that these countries are not quite ready to hold the greatest rugby tournament on earth. Perhaps they do not have the stadiums for the event, or possibly the money. Yet clearly if that is the case why not to give the tournament to the USA? There is a proven level of interest, great infrastructure, and almost certainly enough college football stadiums that would be able to accommodate a rugby field instead of a grid iron.
California 2023 has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?