SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Rugby is one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States, and has a fan base of 850 million people worldwide. The sport's biggest event is the Rugby World Cup which has the possibility of coming to San Diego in 2031.
"They have identified San Diego as a growing rugby population," says Mark Neville, the CEO of Sports San Diego.
Growing so fast, the San Diego Legion joined Major League Rugby in 2017 and is now in its fifth season. Legion Executive General Manager David Haigh says the sport has grown considerably in San Diego at all levels.
"There are a number of teams, youth teams, and high school teams. They are not only big in number, but have achieved really high on the field."
The success of rugby in San Diego has now caught the eye of the decision-makers for the sport's biggest event, and that would be the Rugby World Cup.
"The Rugby World Cup, believe it or not, is the third-largest sporting event in the world behind only the Olympics and FIFA World Cup soccer," says Neville.
Just like soccer, Rugby World Cup takes place every four years with the top twenty teams in the world competing. This week an announcement will be made regarding the 2031 Rugby World Cup, and the hope is the United States will be chosen as the host country, with the chance San Diego will be a part if the event.
"Snapdragon Stadium, the new stadium in Mission Valley, is perfectly set up to host some of the early rounds of the World Cup," says Haigh. "As a part of the bidding process, the owners of the San Diego Legion were quite influential in driving the bid for 2031 and 2033 World Cup."
Neville, who is also the Executive Director of the SDCCU Holiday Bowl, feels the Rugby World Cup would be a perfect fit in San Diego.
"San Diego is great about putting on big events."
Although the Rugby World Cup is still nine years away, having many of the best players in the world competing in San Diego is not only great for the fans, but also for the city.
"What we are doing at Sports San Diego is trying to find those events that are going to benefit us economically, create more jobs, more visibility for the region, and driving more economic impact."