Cape Town — The United States will have to “engage new eyes” to ensure that the 2031 and 2033 Rugby World Cups are a success.
That was the word from Victoria Folayan, the USA Rugby board of directors athlete representative and former US sevens star on Thursday after America were named as hosts of the men’s and women’s tournaments.
It’s the first time that the showpiece 15s event will venture into North America, after sevens rugby’s significant inroads over the last decade.
World Rugby confirmed England as the hosts of the 2025 women’s edition, and Australia for both in 2027 and 2029, as well as the USA for 2031 and 2033 following their annual general meeting in Dublin on Thursday.
“Never ever (thought USA would host two World Cups). The United States has a massive footprint in the sports world, but it hasn’t tapped into that rugby world as yet,” Folayan said at a press conference.
“These World Cups are going to be a vehicle to path ourselves into the direction of greatness. The World Cup brings a lot of invitations to us — an invitation to increase our levels of awareness, to increase our sports fan-base.
“Even with the bid itself, we got a chance to talk to dozens of venues. We had local, state, national government… we got calls from (US President) Joe Biden in the video, to say that we want rugby in the United States.
“And that right there: Just being able to say the United States is going to host Rugby World Cups in 2031 and 2033 – the doors are open! It’s huge. Just being able to take that step…
“We know it’s just the beginning, and there’s a lot of hard work that will happen in future. We have to engage new eyes. We have to welcome our nation to the sport that we love, because rugby is the sport of the community.”
USA Rugby chief executive Ross Young added: “I speak for the rugby community and fans across the United States when I express our sincere gratitude to World Rugby for their trust and endorsement of our vision to grow this incredible sport exponentially across our country.
“USA Rugby will now venture into a new era and ensure the sport’s most treasured event is a springboard for creating lasting, sustainable enthusiasm and passion for rugby from coast to coast.
“We look forward to partnering with World Rugby in the years ahead to ensure that our preparations for these tournaments and the events themselves are a paradigm-shifting catalyst for the growth of our sport, not only here in the United States, but around the world.”
World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin admitted that “a lot of hard work” lay ahead before 2031, but he was excited about the possibilities of having the World Cup on American soil.
“We have spent a lot of time in the last few years with USA Rugby, building to this point in the journey. Today is a really historic day for us altogether. We are on a long runway to a fantastic outcome in 2031 and 2033,” he said.
“The investment is going to be significant from a lot of different stakeholders, and the first thing we have to do is give some real certainty to the US teams around what the next few years look like — start to build the competitiveness of those teams leading into the tournaments over the next few years.
“So, significant investment in high performance, significant investment in performance pathways, significant investment in the community game…
“There are a number of parts to that — smart partnerships… How we can partner with other sports and use the platforms they already have to help us grow. The competition is everything else dominating people’s attention.”