Rugby-U.S. would make awesome World Cup host, says Whitelock

(Reuters) - The United States would be an excellent place to host a Rugby World Cup given growing enthusiasm for the game and the country's track record for staging mega sporting events, All Blacks captain Sam Whitelock said on Friday.

Speaking to reporters on the eve of his team's clash with the Eagles in Washington, D.C., Whitelock said he has heard "a lot" of talk about the possibility of the 2027 World Cup being held in the States.

"You can tell there is some real momentum going into rugby here. It's pretty cool to see," Whitelock said.

The New Zealander has attended professional basketball and hockey games in the United States and said the fan experience is about much more than just the teams competing against each other.

"They can put on a show," he said.

"It's about the before, the halftime, the celebrations, the music. They do it so well. So whether it's here in 2027, or after that, I'm sure they'll do an awesome job."

He noted that there is no shortage of stadiums to hold the matches and said the teams and fans would both benefit.

"It would be a pretty cool place for the players to come play and for supporters to come and be a tourist and have a look around," he said.

More than 40,000 fans are expected to attend Saturday's test match at FedExField as the sport tries to make inroads in a country where American football, basketball, baseball, hockey and soccer reign supreme.

The next Rugby World Cup will be held in France in 2023.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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