Rugby Australia’s push for closer ties with New Zealand has extended to potentially offering the Kiwis pool matches in its bid to host the 2027 Rugby World Cup.
New RA chairman Hamish McLennan has declared he is open to sharing games across the Tasman to strengthen a relationship he says has taken on increasing importance because of COVID-19’s impact.
While details around Australia’s bid for the 2027 global showpiece are still being formulated, McLennan revealed he is receptive to New Zealand playing a role.
“At the end of the day, there’s a lot of history between our two countries so I’m really open to that,” McLennan told Sky TV in NZ.
“I want to have a friendly and co-operative relationship with you guys. You are what you are, you’re a fantastic rugby nation.
“We’re really keen to win it and if you got a few pool games or a pool, I’d be up for that.”
McLennan’s comments came in the context of discussing the future model of Super Rugby, which he is adamant needs to have an Australasian structure.
He said both countries have reached an enviable stage in the fight against COVID-19 compared to other nations but both share the need for a financial injection.
Broadcasters were continuing to talk up the value of a trans-Tasman competition, he said, along with the possible inclusion of a Pacific Islands team.
“If we can do more cross-Tasman with Super Rugby, that’s great,” McLennan said.
“The SANZAAR nations have to stick together. You guys have been the leaders for a long time. We’ve got a great history.
“If we can secure the World Cup, that would be great for this part of the world and it is due to come down to the southern hemisphere.”
If the bid is successful, the 11th Rugby World Cup would be the fourth in Australasia.
Australia (2003) and New Zealand (2011) have each held lone staging rights while they were co-hosts for the inaugural 1987 tournament.
A low point in trans-Tasman relations came in the leadup to the 2003 tournament when New Zealand were ditched as co-hosts following a contractual dispute.
McLennan last week included himself on a powerful advisory board to oversee the bid.
– Daniel Gilhooly
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