Images by David Rogers/Getty
The United States has won its bid to host the Rugby World Cup for the first time: the men’s tournament in 2031 and the women’s tournament in 2033.
World Rugby announced the next round of host countries as ushering in a “golden decade for the sport”, featuring veteran hosts England (2025 Women’s World Cup) and Australia (2027 Men’s and 2029 Women’s) as well as the USA.
Here are some things to know about the tournament:
The Rugby World Cup is a great event
Every four years, qualified teams (and their fans) from around the world converge in one country for the weeks-long world title competition. More than 1.7 million people reportedly attended the last men’s RWC in 2019 in Japan, the first Asian country to host it.
The men’s tournament features 20 teams, divided into groups and playing nearly 50 games over seven weeks in stadiums across the host country. The Women’s World Cup will have 16 teams playing in a similar format; there are normally 12 teams, but the sport’s governing body is expanding the tournament (from 2025) as part of its efforts to grow women’s football.
The record for US rugby teams
The USA Eagles won the first Women’s Rugby World Cup in 1991. The USA were runners-up in the following two Women’s World Cups and placed fourth in 2017. No host country has ever won the women’s title, but the USA will try to change that if reigning champions New Zealand don’t beat them in that distinction when they receive it later this year (after a delay due to the pandemic).
The American men’s best performance was winning a game, the last time being at the 2011 World Cup.
Rugby is played across the US
The world will be watching to see if the US can be competitive and attract the huge crowds that have flocked to world cups in rugby strongholds in Europe and the Southern Hemisphere.
For now, there is ample opportunity for fans to get in the game in person and prepare for the big event. Major League Rugby has men’s teams playing in a dozen US cities. There are semi-professional and amateur adult teams, college and collegiate club programs, youth rugby camps, wheelchair rugby, and tap (non-tackle) rugby leagues, for beginners. USA Rugby lists contacts in almost every state.
World Rugby has officially announced that the USA will host the 2031 Men’s and 2033 Women’s World Cups!
— New England Free Jacks (@NEFreeJacks) May 12, 2022
Amy Morgan is an editor at NPR. She played rugby for 16 years, co-founded rugby teams in two states and tweeted @amymorganedits.