Australia's bid for the 2027 Rugby World Cup has moved closed to fruition and is set to be rubber-stamped next May ©Getty Images

Australia is poised to host the Rugby World Cup in 2027 after being named the preferred candidate by the World Rugby Council, while England has been given the same status for the women's competition in 2025.

The United States is additionally in pole position for the 2031 Rugby World Cup and will enter into exclusive targeted dialogue with World Rugby over that tournament and a future women's World Cup.

World Rugby said that "a number of interested parties" are in discussions over the 2029 World Cup, for women, but none have reached exclusive targeted dialogue or been labelled as the preferred candidate.

Russia has expressed interest in hosting a Rugby World Cup, but cannot be awarded any major events until December 17 2022 because of sanctions imposed on the nation by the World Anti-Doping Agency and Court of Arbitration for Sports. 

Final hosting rights for all four events are due to be awarded by the Council in May 2022.

It is the first time World Cups are being awarded under a new process whereby the council received an evaluation of candidates rather than a recommendation, and voting will be made public.

Preferred candidates are to be invited to pitch what World Rugby calls "a flexible approach with hosting proposals that best fit their sporting, economic, social and environmental planning needs".

This will lead to more sustainable and engaging World Cups, it is claimed.

"The new approach to electing Rugby World Cup hosts is more flexible and collaborative, with World Rugby working with potential hosts to optimise their Rugby World Cup proposals and align them with long-term social and economic development plans for the benefit of their communities and the future expansion of the sport," said World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont.

"As a result, we are entering into an enhanced relationship with England and Australia as exclusive Preferred Candidates for 2025 and 2027 respectively, and USA in exclusive targeted dialogue with a view to developing the most effective hosting model."

Ireland's first-ever win against New Zealand came in Chicago - and the city could well host matches as part of the 2031 Rugby World Cup as the United States is entering into exclusive dialogue with World Rugby on the tournament ©Getty Images
Ireland's first-ever win against New Zealand came in Chicago - and the city could well host matches as part of the 2031 Rugby World Cup as the United States is entering into exclusive dialogue with World Rugby on the tournament ©Getty Images

Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan said the organisation now had "an exciting opportunity to shape a tournament which will continue the growth of our great game across Australia, the Pacific and globally and showcase our country to the world."

The Rugby World Cup fits into Australia's goal of hosting 10 major international sporting events over the course of a decade, with the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games the jewel in the crown.

Bill Sweeney, chief executive of England's Rugby Football Union, claimed the 2025 Rugby World Cup "will be incredible, our ambition is to stage the best attended women's RWC ever, with nationwide qualifiers and a sellout final at Twickenham Stadium. 

"We are looking forward to working with World Rugby and Government to make this happen."

France is staging the next 15-a-side men's World Cup, in 2023, while the next women's event is set for New Zealand next year, having ben delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2025 tournament will be the first to feature 16 teams.

USA Rugby had to file for bankruptcy in 2020, but the nation has long been viewed as a potential growth market for rugby union.

"This is a positive next step for the USA as we elevate exclusive discussions with World Rugby and our stakeholders around a successful campaign for Rugby World Cup 2031," said USA Rugby chief executive Ross Young. 

"The United States is an emerging rugby market primed with potential that we’re excited to unlock and strategically partner in the most effective way. 

"With USA cities, commissions and stakeholders eager to support a USA-hosted Rugby World Cup, this targeted dialogue opens a new door for collaboration and progress, ultimately fuelling an optimistic future for USA Rugby and the global game."