The Russian Rugby Federation has been given a major boost to its mooted bid to host the 2027 Rugby World Cup, after confirming that the country’s president Vladimir Putin has backed the proposal.
While the official bidding campaign for the event does not get underway until next February, the federation said last week that it had established a committee to prepare its application, and has now announced that it has backing from the highest levels of government.
World Rugby is expected to make a decision by May 2022. Australia is the strong favourite, with the 2023 edition in France set to be the third consecutive Rugby World Cup to be held in the northern hemisphere, after England 2015 and Japan 2019. No further countries have so far announced their candidacy to host the 2027 tournament.
Russia finished bottom of its group in the 2019 competition, though its status as an up-and-coming territory for the sport may be in its advantage as World Rugby continues its push to expand the game globally. Its choice of France over Ireland and South Africa for the 2023 World Cup was seen as a commercially-led decision, with France being World Rugby’s biggest media rights market globally.
With the Covid-19 pandemic having led to World Rugby establishing a $100m (£80.4m/€92.2m) relief fund to support its member federations, it is likely to seek to ensure the biggest return on its flagship tournament in the coming years.
Russia is currently serving a four-year ban from hosting major sporting events as part of wider sanctions by the World Anti-Doping Agency, though the country is appealing against the measures.