When you think of international sporting excellence, you now think of the Meadowlands.
What had been rumored for a while is now official: World Rugby has awarded the Men’s and Women’s World Cups to the United States in 2031 and 2033, respectively.
And the always awkward New York/New Jersey location mash-up is not only in the mix to host, but could host the finals, according to ESPN. Which means MetLife Stadium (and NJ Transit) are now on the clock for potentially two of the biggest sporting events in the world, as the stadium is the anticipated site of the 2026 men’s soccer World Cup final.
Sources told ESPN that the men’s tournament is expected to stay in its existing October-November window come 2031, with the U.S. bid for both tournaments including NFL stadiums among the 25 prospective host cities: Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Baltimore; Birmingham, Alabama; Boston; Charlotte, North Carolina; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Houston; Kansas City, Missouri; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; Nashville, Tennessee; New York/New Jersey; Orlando, Florida; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Pittsburgh; San Diego; San Francisco Bay Area; Seattle; Washington, D.C.
The destination of the final is yet to be decided, but the smart money would be on New York hosting the showpiece event.
If the area is only getting the final, MetLife will be the place. But if there are early-round games in the region, Red Bull Arena in Harrison and/or a future NYCFC stadium could be in the picture. Past World Cups have utilized smaller venues (think 20,000 to 30,000 capacity), albeit when the tournament was held in smaller countries.
Getting the World Cups is a colossal achievement for USA Rugby. The sport — which takes the best things about football and soccer and rolls them into one — should be a much bigger deal in America than it is. Hosting the tournaments should give rugby the much-needed exposure boom it needs. The women are already one of the world’s best teams — currently ranked No. 7 by World Rugby — but the 18th-ranked men have some work to do.
But please, NJ Transit. Do not screw this up. You have had years of notice. Hopefully the presence of soccer and/or rugby hooligans will inspire everyone to avoid another Super Bowl- or WrestleMania-level meltdown.