Rugby Australia win 2027 World Cup host rights, Wallabies, All Blacks, Hamish McLennan, video


Australian rugby has been given a second chance to secure and grow the game.

Having blown their $40 million cash windfall in the years after the 2003 World Cup, Rugby Australia will all but certainly host the 2027 World Cup.

“All we need to do now is dot the i’s and cross the t’s,” Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan told foxsports.com.au from London, having been named World Rugby’s “preferred candidate” host.

As the clock struck midnight on Thursday, former Wallaby turned World Rugby administrator Brett Robinson delivered the news Australia’s advisory panel so desperately wanted.

“I woke up at 12:15am last night and checked my phone and there was a message saying, ‘we’ve got it,’” Executive Director of Australia’s bid and two-time World Cup-winner Phil Kearns said just two days after returning from the United Kingdom where the panel attempted to woo the north’s support to back their bid.

“I haven’t slept a lot since then.”

Bid advisory chair Rod Eddington, World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin, World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont, Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan, World Rugby vice chairman Bernard Laporte and Australian World Rugby council member Brett Robinson in London. Photo: GETTYSource: Getty Images

For more than two years Rugby Australia viewed winning the 2027 World Cup rights as their way out. Now they can see the light.

The moment Rugby Australia Director Anthony French took over a bunch 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 the midst of a typhoon.

As French said, “It was the initial piece which whetted the appetite”.

RWC Bid Executive Director Phil Kearns (L) and Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos (R) in Sydney following the news Australia will host the 2027 World Cup. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

McLennan arrived at RA in the height of the Covid pandemic when the cash-strapped organisation was within an inch of folding.

He was tasked with winning the World Cup rights to lead the fallen rugby superpower back from the oblivion.

“It was an idea 15 months ago and it was the light on the hill,” McLennan said.

Within months he set-up an advisory panel and his first piece of business was bringing Sir Rod Eddington – the highly regarded businessman who turned British Airways around – on board.

Less than a year later, on May 20, RA formally announced their World Cup bid.

The duo, as well as RA CEO Andy Marinos, French and former Wallabies captain John Eales flew to the UK earlier this month to hold crucial meetings to try to win support for their bid.

As McLennan said, “We arrived at ground zero three weeks ago and now we’re an inch from winning the World Cup rights.”

Phil Kearns (L) and Andy Marinos (R) speak to the media on November 25, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

The benefits are plentiful.

“What it brings to the country in 2027 and you’ve seen the numbers, it has a huge economic benefit for the nation, over $2.5 billion of economic benefit and I’m thrilled rugby can drive that,” Kearns said.

“This potential secures financially the future for rugby a long, long time in this country and with the pathway we’ve got with the British and Irish Lions coming in 2025, a World Cup in ’23, England next year and a Rugby World Cup in 2027, this is a great growth opportunity for rugby in Australia.”

As Marinos said, “it’s really a golden decade for rugby in this country.”

Sydney or Melbourne will host the World Cup final with eight to 10 cities to host matches.

Rugby Australia Chairman Hamish McLennan speaks during the boardroom lunch at Australia House on November 16, 2021 in London. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Having poured money down the drain following the highly successful 2003 World Cup, RA says they will not make the same mistake again and planning the best way of building their war chest.

“That’s been at the forefront of the board’s mind from the inception,” Marinos said.

“This is not about getting a windfall and propping up artificially certain areas of the game for short-term return, this is about putting it into an investment vehicle that’s going to drive long-term sustainability.

“We’ve got a plan in place and once we’ve finalised the deal we’ll be implementing that.”

Wallabies players (L-R) Justin Harrison, Matt Cockbain & Stirling Mortlock react after England defeated Australia in 2003 World Cup final in Sydney, 22/11/03. Pic Gregg PorteousSource: News Corp Australia

Australia fended off a challenge from the United States to host the 2027 World Cup, with the Americas set to secure the 2031 tournament.

“World Rugby kept their cards close to their chest,” Marinos admitted.

“We know what we can deliver. We’re a safe pair of hands, we’ve got a robust and dependable infrastructure, we’ve got a well-educated society that understands the game and we’ve got a proven track record, we’ve delivered it, America hasn’t.

“They’ve delivered major events but they haven’t delivered a rugby event.

“What they do have is they’ve got size, they’ve volume and they’ve got scale, so from a financial return one could argue that would probably turn out a much bigger return if they needed to, so that was always at the back of our minds and trying to understand where World Rugby was coming out of the pandemic where is the priority sitting.”

With a British and Irish Lions series on the precipice too, RA hopes those considering leaving rugby or playing a different sport will be lured to the game by the “golden decade” Marnios speaks of.

“It’s hugely significant,” Marinos said.

“It gives us a pathway, it gives optimism.

“From our perspective, it’s going to give us the ability to reset the commercial landscape.”



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