'Once-in-a-generation opportunity' could turbo-charge Australia's revival
Senior officials have downplayed talk of Australia being hot favourites to host the 2027 Rugby World Cup, but are optimistic about their prospects.
The Australian bid was launched in Sydney on Thursday with a rally cry of ‘Game On’.
While there is talk the country will lead the race for 2027, Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos sounded a cautionary note.
He referred to 2023 tournament host vote won by France.
“It was not so long ago South Africa were the firm favourites to win 2023 and then at the last minute the whole thing turned on them,” Marinos said.
“We are certainly putting ourselves in the very best position we can and it all depends on the strength of the other bids, particularly from America.”
Australia could face multiple opponents for the 2027 hosting rights, according to RA chairman Hamish McLennan.
“We know that the US is there for 27 and 31, Russia has put its hand up, I don’t know if they will be able to handle it,” McLennan said.
“There might be a Celtic bid in the next weeks that comes forward.
“I think there’s a general acknowledgement that it’s due to come south, it has been quite a few years (2011) since it’s been played in the southern hemisphere and we’re one of the most historical rugby nations going, so I think they know we will manage the tournament really well.”
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Other reasons for the Australian bid’s optimism include the country’s proven record of hosting major events – the 2000 Olympics and 2003 Rugby World Cup – existing infrastructure comprising several modern and sizeable stadia, and the handling of the COVID pandemic.
“World Rugby thinks we’re ahead of the curve so we’re really committed not complacent,” McLennan said.
“We’re putting the right forces in place, the federal government has given us $8.8 million to sponsor the bid.
“So everyone knows we’re pretty serious, so I think we stand a good chance if we play our cards right.”
RA needed financial assistance from World Rugby last year, but McLennan doubted that would impact on the bid.
“They know we’ve done it tough but they are confident we are getting our house in order and we’ve made drastic cuts over the last eight months,” McLennan said.
”We’ve also got a vision statement for the game that they are very excited so they are supportive of us.
“Sports do go in cycles, we’re coming off the bottom and we’re very confident about where we’re going.”
The Australian bid projects over 200,000 international visitors and over two million attendees for the 2027 tournament, if the bid is successful.
It would feature 20 nations and 48 matches over seven weeks and be played at between eight and 10 venues.
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