United States contemplating bid for 2023 Rugby World Cup
Friday, 02 December 2011
December 2 - USA Rugby chief executive Nigel Melville (pictured) has revealed that the United States are currently discussing a bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, which would also see Canada host games in the competition.
Melville, the former England captain, suggested that the International Rugby Board (IRB) are keen to take their blue-ribbon event to America for the first time.
The competition has previous been staged in Oceania three times, Europe three times and South Africa once in 1995.
The event will go back to Europe for a fourth time in 2015 when England stage the competition and Asia for the first time when Japan host the 2019 event.
"We were asked during the 2011 World Cup whether we would be prepared to bid for 2023," said 50-year-old Melville, a former Wasps player who won 13 caps for England at scrum-half.
"I know it seems like a very long way away for us all but we have to start those processes now so we are having a discussion about that.
"Also Canada is interested in some sort of joint bid so we could do it together as North America.
"There would be opportunities in Toronto and Vancouver and obviously bringing the tournament to North America would be a tremendous boost for us all."
The US could face stiff competition from Russia who have already declared their intention to bid following their FIFA 2018 World Cup bid victory.
Melville feels that Russia will be a very strong contender for 2023 and that 2027 may be another option for the United States.
"Discussions are taking place and I get the feel that if we bid for 2023 we might not get it," he said.
"But in 2027 we might well get it.
"The thing is, I don't think we will get 2027 if we don't at least bid in 2023.
"So I think we have to start putting the wheels in motion now to bid for the World Cup.
"That way we can certainly put ourselves on the map as serious contenders.
"I think people would be interested in partnering with us to do that and certainly there is a will in our rugby community and across the globe.
"People would be fascinated at having a World Cup in America."
Melville said the Rugby World Cup represented an opportunity to drive interest in the sport in America where rugby struggles for attention behind American football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey.
"It is something we should be looking at," he explained.
"You need to look strategically where we want rugby to be.
"Would we be able to cope with it, have we got the infrastructure, have we got the stadia and the big question would be could we fill the stadiums?"
However, the inclusion of rugby sevens in the Olympics for the Rio 2016 Games has led to increased focus and funding for the sport in America.
USA Rugby said that they would be able to offer 23 fulltime contracts to sevens players from January 2012 after recently striking a deal with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).