World Rugby considering drastic change to World Cups

Publish Date
Tuesday, 14 September 2021, 8:12AM
Mark Mitchell

Mark Mitchell

World Rugby is looking at the possibility of holding men's and women's Rugby World Cup every two years instead of four, according to reports.

Since the inaugural men's tournament in 1987, the Rugby World Cup has been staged every four years. The next event takes place in France in 2023.

The first women's World Cup took place in 1991 and after a three-year gap until the next tournament in 1994, it has been held every four years since. The latest World Cup was set to take place this year in New Zealand but has been delayed until 2022 due to the Covid pandemic.

"Biennial World Cups have been considered before and they're definitely something that we will continue to consider," chief executive of World Rugby Alan Gilpin told the Telegraph.

"It's an interesting concept, especially when you think about the global development of the women's game, too," he added.

It comes a week after Fifa announced plans to reshape international football by changing World Cup tournaments to every two years.

Gilpin, WC23 chief executive Claude Atcher and chairman of World Rugby Bill Beaumont met in Paris this week nearing the halfway point in the World Cup cycle to the start of the 2023 World Cup.

Other topics on the agenda were France 2023 ticketing issues, World Cup scheduling and possible World Cup expansion, the Telegraph reports.

Football's plans

Last week, Fifa detailed its plan for reshaping international football around playing the men's World Cup every two years despite European opposition that could lead to a boycott.

Joined by retired greats, FIFA unveiled the proposal but the pushback from Europe was immediate as UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin confirmed it could launch a boycott by its teams which have dominated football's marquee event since Brazil won in 2002.

"We can decide not to play in it," Ceferin said in an interview with British daily The Times.

About 80 former internationals including World Cup winners went to Qatar for two days of FIFA-hosted talks and emerged with consensus for playing the tournament twice as often.

"We all agreed with the new proposal of the calendar," said Brazil great Ronaldo, who went to four World Cups and won twice. He described FIFA's proposal as "just amazing."

Still, European football leader Ceferin said "as far as I know, the South Americans are on the same page" with resisting FIFA's plan.

"So good luck with a World Cup like that," Ceferin told The Times in the latest UEFA vs. FIFA fight since 2016 when he and Gianni Infantino were elected to the respective presidencies.

FIFA can expect opposition from Olympic sports to adding another World Cup that would absorb billions of dollars in commercial revenue and a huge amount of media attention.

If approved, a biennial World Cup would likely move to odd-numbered years to avoid clashing with the Summer Olympics which open in late-July in 2028 and 2032.

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission