World Rugby announced on Tuesday evening that they are recommending that the 2021 Rugby World Cup is put on the back burner for a year.
Given the still unclear pathways out of the pandemic and the associated travel chaos for teams and supporters it is the only sensible solution.
International women’s rugby has been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, compared to the men’s game, and it’s unlikely that the tournament would have been competitive. There have been huge variations on how governments and unions have been willing or able to support the largely amateur women’s game, and it’s likely that the tournament would have been even more of a procession for the top sides than normal.
World Rugby Statement
World Rugby has made the difficult decision to recommend the postponement of Rugby World Cup 2021, scheduled to be hosted in New Zealand between 18 September-16 October, until next year. The recommendation will be considered by the Rugby World Cup Board and World Rugby Executive Committee on 8 and 9 March respectively.
While appreciating the recommendation is extremely disappointing for teams and fans, it has their interests at heart, and gives the tournament the best opportunity to be all it can be for them, all New Zealanders and the global rugby family.
The recommendation is based on the evolution of the uncertain and challenging global COVID-19 landscape. It has become clear in recent discussions with key partners including New Zealand Rugby, the New Zealand Government and participating unions, that, given the scale of the event and the COVID-19-related uncertainties, it is just not possible to deliver the environment for all teams to be the best that they can be on the sport’s greatest stage.
The challenges include uncertainty and the ability for teams to prepare adequately for a Rugby World Cup tournament both before and on arrival in New Zealand, and challenging global travel restrictions.
World Rugby can assure teams, New Zealanders and the global rugby family that the recommendation to postpone the tournament will help to ensure that Rugby World Cup 2021 will be all it can be next year for players, fans and the rugby family – one of the great Rugby World Cups.
Further updates will be issued following the Rugby World Cup Board and World Rugby Executive Committee meetings next week.