Potential Rugby World Cup 2023 hosts gathered in London last week for two days of briefings and information-sharing as the race to host rugby's showcase event gathers momentum.
With the process formally having kicked off on 14 May, representatives from Ireland, Italy, South Africa and France, who have previously publicly announced their hosting interest, were joined by USA representatives, who are also considering making a bid.
The briefing was the first step in the expression of interest phase of the process, which over the course of the next year will provide potential candidates with an opportunity to participate in the Rugby World Cup 2015 observer and comprehensive knowledge transfer programmes.
World Rugby Chief Executive and Rugby World Cup Limited Managing Director Brett Gosper said: "Great events are built on strong partnerships and these meetings represent a major milestone in the planning and preparation phase for unions and supporting government agencies who intend to bid or are considering a bid for Rugby World Cup 2023.
"Rugby World Cup is one of the world's biggest and best-loved sporting events and a major player in the global sporting marketplace. England 2015 is set to be a very special and record-breaking Rugby World Cup and will be the biggest and probably the best to date."
Rugby World Cup Tournament Director Alan Gilpin added: "We are delighted with the strong level of serious interest from unions and governments in Rugby World Cup 2023 at this very early stage, which highlights the enormous hosting appeal of Rugby World Cup as a low-risk, high-return economic, social and sporting driver and we welcome further dialogue as the process progresses."
The briefing provided an opportunity to establish relationships and understand the economic, tourism and rugby benefits that can be derived from hosting Rugby World Cup along with information on the process, and a revised hosting framework which aims to create more unified partnerships, more effective operations and stronger commercial outcomes for World Rugby and the hosting country.