On Friday, Australia’s governing body said that hosting the men’s Rugby World Cup in 2027 and the women’s championship in 2029 will be a lifeline for the sport.
“In reality, that was the only way we could salvage the game.”
Rugby Australia (RA) chairman Hamish McLennan informed the Sydney Morning Herald that World Rugby had finalized the hosts for the next five World Cups.
With rugby union floundering in Australia’s saturated sports market, McLennan thinks that hosting the two championships would yield a windfall of Aus$100 million (US$69 million) that can be invested in the future.
“This is a momentous day for Australian rugby.” “We’re overjoyed,” he remarked.
“It’s a game-changer for rugby in this nation, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to revive and ensure the sport’s future here and see the game we all love to flourish and prosper for years to come.”
Rugby Australia has not recovered from the Aus$27.1 million loss during the Covid-enforced sporting hiatus in 2020.
Rugby union has generally been overlooked in Australia, where rugby league and AFL (Australian rules football) are the dominant winter sports.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge was lighted up in green and gold on Thursday, hours before the World Cup announcement, in anticipation of the financial lifeline.
Wallabies star Tim Horan, who won the World Cup in 1991 and 1999, tweeted that the World Cup returning to Australia would be “the most historic event in Australian rugby history since winning the RWC in 1991 that placed rugby on the map in Oz.”
“Hosting the men’s and women’s RWCs in 2027 and 2029 would increase participation and give financial stability for our game for centuries,” he stated.
The two World Cups are expected to give much-needed awareness for rugby in Australia, which will also host the British and Irish Lions in 2025, the Commonwealth Games in 2026, and the Olympics in 2032 when Rugby Sevens will be featured.
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper described the situation as “a fairly excellent moment to be a young rugby player or seeking to play rugby.”
George Gregan, who led the Wallabies to the World Cup final on home soil in 2003, feels rugby’s global showcase has the potential to elevate rugby union in Australia.
“The enthusiasm these events can bring to a country and the people supporting them are extraordinary,” he remarked.
“Seeing a buffet of world sports will encourage and inspire the future generation.” Australia is a very competitive sporting scene, and moments, events, and experiences like this help propel (rugby) to the forefront.”
The World Cup bid organizers expect that the event will gather more than two million people over seven weeks, including 200,000 foreign tourists.