World Cup in USA will be a 'game-changer'
SPOTLIGHT: The United States staging a first Rugby World Cup would be a “game-changer” for the sport in the country, according to Eagles international Nick Civetta.
World Rugby is set to announce the destination of five World Cups following a vote of its ruling council in Dublin on Thursday, with the US in line to host both the 2031 men’s and 2033 women’s editions.
New Zealand is set to stage this year’s Covid-delayed women’s World Cup, with the 2023 men’s tournament taking place in France.
England are the favourites to put on the 2025 World Cup, with Australia lined up as the venue for the 2027 men’s World Cup and the women’s showpiece two years later.
But all these countries are established Rugby Union nations, whereas the XV-a-side code is an emerging game in a US market still dominated by the native North American sports of American football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey.
“In the long term, obviously, it would be massive to get the World Cup,” Civetta, one of three American internationals in the Oxford team that beat arch-rivals Cambridge in the University match at Twickenham in April, told Britain’s Press Association.
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Club rugby in the US has expanded with the creation of Major League Rugby (MLR), a competition featuring the likes of former England captain Chris Robshaw.
“The MLR is growing, the quality of play is increasing every week and the visibility,” said Civetta.
“If we’re able to get the World Cup in the US, it would be a game-changer for the finances of the game,” he added, citing the “fantastic” impact on Japan, another emerging rugby nation, in staging the 2019 World Cup.
For former Newcastle and Doncaster lock Civetta, 32, the more immediate task is to help the United States, whose men’s side went two years without a Test due to the coronavirus pandemic, qualify for next year’s World Cup in France.
The Eagles face Chile in a two-legged qualifier in July to decide who will play at France 2023, with Civetta saying: “We are massively looking forward to the opportunity to qualify this summer and there is a huge amount of energy that will go into that.”