The United States is forging ahead with a bid for the Rugby World Cup after being formally accepted as a potential candidate to host the tournament in the future, USA Rugby said Thursday.
USA Rugby said the organization will continue work on its bid after receiving positive feedback from a Rugby World Cup Feasibility Study that was launched in August last year.
World Rugby is expected to announce the 2027 and 2031 World Cup hosts in May next year, along with the hosts of the 2025 and 2029 Women's Rugby World Cups.
USA Rugby said the United States would be a candidate for the 2027 and 2031 men's and 2029 women's tournaments.
Australia is widely considered to be the front-runner to win the rights to stage the 2027 tournament, with Russia the only other country to have expressed interest after Argentina scrapped plans to stage the tournament.
"Putting our hand up to host a Rugby World Cup is a benchmark for the game in America, however, the exciting stages are just now beginning as the stakeholder group continues into campaign planning," USA Rugby chief executive Ross Young said in a statement.
Rugby has enjoyed steady growth in popularity in the United States in recent years, with the launch of a professional league and test matches such as Ireland's 2016 victory over New Zealand, which played out before a packed house at Chicago's Solider Field.
San Francisco also successfully hosted the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2018, encouraging talk of a bid for the 15-a-side World Cup.
World Rugby is keen to take its flagship tournament to new territories as it attempts to grow the sport, successfully staging the event in Japan in 2019, the first time a Rugby World Cup has been held outside Europe or Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Former World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper said last year that the body would welcome a bid from the US, noting that "there is no commercial market like the United States."
"We think it's a desirable thing if there is a good candidature from the United States," Gosper said at the time.
While the US has an abundance of stadia in place and established tourism infrastructure to comfortably host a World Cup, some analysts believe that a 2027 bid is unlikely to be successful, given that the tournament would be sandwiched between the 2026 soccer World Cup in the United States, Canada and Mexico and the 2028 Olympics, taking place in Los Angeles.
That makes a bid for the 2031 men's tournament and 2029 women's tournament more feasible, although any bid for 2031 is likely to encounter strong competition from potential bidders in Europe.