SYDNEY (AP) — Australia has launched its bid to host the 2027 Rugby World Cup, aiming to bring the sport's showcase event to the country for the third time.
Australia co-hosted the inaugural World Cup with New Zealand in 1987 and was sole host of the 2003 tournament, when the Wallabies were beaten by England in the final of the event held every four years.
New Zealand and South Africa have won the Cup three times each and Australia is a two-time champion. The Springboks beat England in the 2019 final in Japan, the first to be staged in Asia, and the 2023 RWC is set to be hosted by France.
Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan said the 2027 tournament would bring more than 200,000 international visitors to Australia and he estimated a combined total of two million people attending the matches.
It would feature 20 nations and 48 matches over seven weeks and be played at between eight and 10 venues.
“Hosting Rugby World Cup 2027 is a once-in-a generation opportunity for Australia, which would drive substantial economic outcomes for our country, while also providing a lasting legacy for rugby in this region,” McLennan said.
Former Wallaby hooker Phil Kearns, who won the World Cup with Australia in 1991 and 1999, is the executive director of the bid.
Kearns said hosting the 2027 edition “would be a transformational moment for the game in this country and the Pacific, presenting an enormous opportunity to grow the game."
Rugby Australia said it is in talks with World Rugby and will send a detailed bid proposal in June. An evaluation phase starts next February and the World Rugby Council will vote on the hosts in May of next year.
Australia dropped to seventh in the world rankings after its 2019 quarterfinal loss to England and last year won just one of six tests. Off the field, the code went through a tumultuous time in 2020, with several former Wallabies captains, including Kearns, criticizing the game’s administration and leadership.
Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle resigned and the organization made drastic staff cuts after a debt inflated by the lack of revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, former Wallabies captain John Eales thinks the future is bright for the sport in Australia.
“If you look at the progress we’ve made in the last couple of years, it’s been pretty impressive,” Eales told Australian Associated Press. “So if you look at that tracking and if you look at some of the talent that’s coming through, we’ve got some genuinely world-class talent in amongst that.”
Russia has also indicated an interest to host the event in 2027, and the United States for 2031. World Rugby will also select the host country for 2031 next year.
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