England, Scotland and Wales propose joint 2031 Rugby World Cup bid

Ireland v Scotland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan

The English, Scottish and Welsh Rugby Unions are considering a joint bid to host the 2031 Rugby World Cup, after World Rugby officially opened the process on Monday.

In the official announcement on Monday, World Rugby stated that “multi-nation bids are being welcomed.” This could make the 2031 tournament the first to be officially co-hosted by more than one nation since the sport was professionalised.

Although the English Rugby Football Union (RFU) has been considering a lone bid for some time, the financial constraints of the pandmeic have made the prospects of a joint bid much more promising.

“The four rugby unions of the UK and Ireland are considering the merits of a joint bid to host the [2031] Rugby World Cup,” an RFU spokesperson said to The Guardian.

“Collective discussions with government partners across the UK and Ireland have not yet taken place and a decision on whether to bid has not yet been made.”

However, although it was initially reported in The Guardian that all four Home Nations were considering a joint proposal to host the tournament, according to the Irish Examiner the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) has not participated in the bid.

As reported in the Examiner, the IRFU informed broadcaster RTE: “The IRFU wish to clarify that while some preliminary exploratory discussions took place last Autumn with the English, Scottish and Welsh Unions about a possible joint bid to host Rugby World Cup 2031 the matter is not being progressed, at this point in time.”

The primary benefit of a joint bid is the sharing of finances, as the previous World Cup held in England in 2015 generated revenues of £228.1 million.

In addition to three of the four Home Nations the USA is expected to launch a bid. World Rugby also started the bidding process for the 2027 tournament on Monday, which Rugby Australia are the favorites to host.

The current phase consists of ‘dialogue’ between the different unions competing for the rights to host. Bids and ‘candidate files’ will be submitted by January 2022.

From February 2022 onwards World Rugby’s council will evaluate each bid against its criteria. The winners will then be decided by a vote in May.

Earlier this week Rugby Australia offered to host the upcoming British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa, the status of which has been thrown into disarray by the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic.