America will host a Rugby World Cup : Miller

November 11, 2010

International Rugby Board chief executive Mike Miller has said that it is a question of “when, not if” a rugby world cup will be played in the United States.

New Zealand will host the Rugby World cup in 2011 and England will host the 2015 Rugby World cup. The rugby world cup will then break the mould by moving to Japan which is not one of the sports big nations.

IRB Boss Miller says that the United States or even Russia could soon follow in the list of countries to host the Rugby World Cup.

“It’s a question of when – not if – it’s going to happen,” Miller told AP.

Rugby has joined the world’s major sports by being included in the Summer Olympics starting from 2016 but only in the 7-a-side format as the 15 man format requires players to have longer rest periods between matches which makes rugby tournaments last much longer.

The IRB wants the Olympics and the Rugby World Cup to raise the game’s profile in countries outside the currently participating outside Europe and Australasia.

The masses in America will be introduced to rugby next year when NBC broadcasts the World Cup from New Zealand for the first time.

2019 World cup hosts Japan have played in all of the past Rugby World cups but have only won once in 20 matches and are considered an emerging nation when it comes to rugby.

Miller says that the IRB named two host nations last year as established rugby nation England will make a big profit while Japan might not be as profitable but it will grow the game. Naming host nations so may years in advance gives planners more time to prepare and work for the event.

“If you only award one at a time, because all of our funding depends upon (the) Rugby World Cup, you’re more likely to take the safe, conservative option,” Miller said.

“If you do two together, you can take a longer-term view. You can say, ‘2015, that’s England, that’s a banker. Loads of money, that’ll work – full stadia, great press coverage.”

“Japan should work and should spread rugby in Asia. Coupled with England? Great, let’s do it. Japan versus England? Not quite so sure.”

If the IRB continues with their plan of rotating emerging nations and bankers the IRB could take the Rugby world cup to the United States in 2027 or Russia who’s broadcast times would be more favourable to the bulk of the rugby population.

“We need to grow the game all over the world and Asia’s a huge market,” Miller said.

“Europe’s a big market with 300 million, but then you look at India and China and you see 2.5 billion.”

The USA would also need to show the IRB that if they did hold a world cup in the region it would grow the game enough to leave a suitable legacy even though they might not need to build much in the way of infrastructure and stadiums.

“There’s no doubt they can hold it,” Miller said. “There’s no point having it if you then don’t have the infrastructure in place to benefit from it. “

“We would need to see what happens as a result of the exposure on NBC and the Olympics as Rio gets closer.

“It’s too early to tell what will happen in the USA in the next three or four years. It will be crucial seeing 2016 and Rio if the U.S. qualify. There’s no doubt the game is growing in the U.S., it’s just a question of how fast it is growing.”

Rugby will be boosted in Russia, who are in the same Pool as the USA in 2011, as they only allow schools to teach Olympic sports and they also allow teams to draw upon funding from national Olympic committees and their facilities.

“Rugby is now on the curriculum in the Moscow region. That’s of huge benefit to rugby in Russia,” Miller said.

“Previously you had after-school clubs, but you were one step removed and it makes things that little bit harder.

“In England, Australia and New Zealand, you start at 6, 7 or 8 years old. If they start at 15 or 16 in Russia or somewhere else, it’s really difficult to catch up those years lost.”