This year, the quadrennial Rugby world cup will be held, and promoters and planners are in favor of making it even larger in the future. The event will be taking place in England, after the country won a bid against Italy, Japan, and South Africa in 2009 (The next cup in 2019 will be held in Japan). This year, and also in 2019, there will be 20 teams competing for world glory, but planners of the sport will be pushing for even more teams to compete in the cup in 2023.
World Rugby boss, Brett Gosper, is one such advocate. According to him, rugby is the fastest growing team sport in the USA. As such, Gosper, as well as other Rugby fans and aficionados, are hoping that the sport will gain more recognition not only in America, but also in the rest of the international rugby community.
At the moment, the sport also has a fanbase in other nations such as China, India, Mexico, Russia and Germany. As the sport grows in popularity, however, Gosper and others are hoping to expand to new markets with greater chances to make profits in the form of ticket sales, hospitality, televised events, and sponsorships.
However, with popularity comes new problems and concerns that must be faced by the Rugby community. One dilemma Gosper is concerned with is secondary ticket sales or “scalping” as it is known. This is not uncommon for large sports events but there are no laws in place to protect this from happening for this year’s cup. At the moment, the only precaution is that officials require sites selling tickets to publish the exact row and seat number.
There is also the concern of mobile phones at the games, which might permit foul play and “match-fixing” as Gosper stated. World Rugby is still in the process of placing potential legislation on that issue.
Regardless, overall progress will not be deterred for the newly booming international sport. Gosper states that while adding new teams to compete in future world cups may be new and somewhat problematic, it is something that they intend on happening in order to bring more enjoyment to rugby fans across the world.