Rugby has been growing in popularity over the last couple decades, drawing in more fans and players at a grassroots level. Like many sports, it has been recently hit hard by the pandemic. Just what can we expect from the future of Rugby?
An optimistic recovery
Rugby is already in the process of bouncing back from the pandemic. Rugby Union lost a lot of money from having to hold off events and then play to empty stadiums. However, there is a strong fanbase out there and money is now starting to flow back into the clubs due to the recent hype of The Six Nations. Some of Rugby Union’s plans to expand and develop the sport may have to be postponed while it recovers financially, but this should be the only noticeable impact. The sport is now relying more on private equity, which should help to fund the sport’s recovery and future growth.
France to host 2023 World Cup
The next world cup will be hosted by France in 2023. Who won the 2019 rugby World Cup? South Africa were the last victors – could they win again? The latest odds seem to point towards New Zealand as the most likely winners. With Ian Foster as coach and a good track record in recent years, they seem to be in a good place. However, it’s still too early to tell. Both France and England could easily stand a chance. Or who knows – perhaps Australia or one of the outsider teams will prove to be dark horses.
Rugby is a very physical sport, and so carries more health risks than many other sports. Recently there have been many lawsuits and controversies involving brain injuries in previous athletes and a higher risk of dementia in old age. Rugby has already taken many steps in recent years to improve its safety, but further safety precautions may need to be taken. Will scrum caps become compulsory? Or will we even see helmets being brought in much like American Football?
More women have been getting involved in rugby in recent years. Rugby Union will likely try to expand on this in the future. Rugby isn’t the only sport striving for equality and greater awareness of female athletes – the same has been happening in football and cricket. We could start to see more light being shone on female rugby players in the future.
Rugby Union has been eager to expand into new markets. While the pandemic may have postponed some of these plans, they will almost certainly resume in the future if the sport continues to grow at its current rate. Japan hosting the 2019 World Cup was an important moment for the sport – Rugby Union wants to expand its influence in Asian countries where rugby is played but not hugely popular. Could we start seeing the like of China and South Korea embracing the sport more in the future?