Australian rugby has been given a second chance to secure and develop the game.
After exploding its $ 40 million windfall in the years following the 2003 World Cup, Rugby Australia will almost certainly host the 2027 World Cup.
“All we need to do now is dot the i’s and cross the t’s,” Rugby Australia president Hamish McLennan told foxsports.com.au in London after being named host of the World Rugby’s “preferred candidate”.
As the clock struck midnight on Thursday, former Wallaby turned World Rugby administrator Brett Robinson broke the news the Australian advisory board desperately wanted.
âI woke up at 12:15 am last night and checked my phone and there was a message saying ‘we have it’,â said Australian bid executive and two-time World Cup winner Phil Kearns just two days after returning from the UK where the panel attempted to seek support from the north to back their bid.
“I haven’t slept much since.”
For more than two years, Rugby Australia saw winning the rights to the 2027 World Cup as an issue. Now they can see the light.
As Rugby Australia director Anthony French took a group of government officials to Japan for the 2019 World Cup on a World Rugby Observer Tour for a five-day workshop, the seed was sown in in the middle of a typhoon.
As French said, “It was the initial track that whetted your appetite.”
McLennan arrived at RA at the height of the Covid pandemic when the cash-strapped organization was within an inch of folding.
He was tasked with winning World Cup rights to bring the fallen rugby superpower back from oblivion.
âIt was an idea 15 months ago and it was light on the hill,â McLennan said.
Within months, he set up an advisory board and his first endeavor was to bring Sir Rod Eddington – the highly regarded businessman who transformed British Airways – on board.
Less than a year later, on May 20, RA officially announced his candidacy for the World Cup.
The duo, along with RA CEO Andy Marinos, the Frenchman and former Wallabies captain John Eales traveled to the UK earlier this month to hold crucial meetings in an attempt to win support for their candidacy. .
As McLennan said, “We got to Ground Zero three weeks ago and now we’re an inch away from winning World Cup rights.”
The advantages are many.
“What he brings to the country in 2027 and you’ve seen the numbers, he has a huge economic benefit to the nation, over $ 2.5 billion in economic benefit and I’m delighted rugby can lead that.” , Kearns said.
“This potential financially secures the future of rugby for a very, very long time in this country and with the path we have with the British and Irish Lions coming in 2025, a World Cup in 23, England next year. and a Rugby World Cup in 2027 is a tremendous growth opportunity for rugby in Australia.
As Marinos said, “It really is a golden decade for rugby in this country”.
Sydney or Melbourne will host the World Cup final with eight to 10 cities to host the matches.
After pouring money down the drain after the highly successful 2003 World Cup, RA says they won’t make the same mistake again and are planning the best way to build their war chest.
âThis has been at the forefront of the board’s mind from the start,â said Marinos.
âIt’s not about getting a windfall and artificially supporting certain areas of the game for short-term return, it’s about putting it into an investment vehicle that will promote long-term sustainability.
“We have a plan in place and once we finalize the deal, we will implement it.”
Australia has pushed back the United States’ challenge to host the 2027 World Cup, with the Americas ready to secure the 2031 tournament.
âWorld Rugby kept their cards close to their chest,â Marinos admitted.
âWe know what we can offer. We’re a safe pair of hands, we’ve got a strong and reliable infrastructure, we’ve got a well-educated society that understands the game and we’ve been proven to deliver it, America hasn’t.
âThey have organized major events, but they have not organized a rugby event.
âWhat they have is that they have size and volume and scale, so from a financial return you could say that it would probably produce a much bigger return if they needed it, so it was always in the back of our minds and trying to figure out where World Rugby was coming out of the pandemic, where the priority is to sit down. “
With a streak of British and Irish Lions on the precipice as well, RA is hopeful that those considering quitting rugby or playing a different sport will be drawn to the game by the ‘golden decade’ Marnios talks about.
“It is extremely important,” said Marinos.
âIt gives us a way, it gives us optimism.
âFrom our perspective, this will give us the opportunity to reset the business landscape. “