After months of planning, lobbying, and hoping like hell, Australians are being encouraged to be “really excited” with not one but two home World Cups on the horizon.
While it has been known for months Rugby Australia have been World Rugby’s “preferred candidate” to host the 2027 men’s World Cup, on Monday the cash-strapped governing body heard it from the horse’s mouth.
“Preferred bidder, preferred candidate just means we’re not talking to anybody else,” World Rugby boss Alan Gilpin told reporters at a Taronga Zoo function on Monday morning.
“As long as we can do the deal with Rugby Australia, get the support that we know is coming from the state and federal government, I think we’re going to get over the line.
“So I think everyone should be really excited.”
World Rugby will now engage in another week of meetings with state and inspect stadiums across the country so they can report back to the World Rugby Council on May 11 that Australia is indeed the “safe pair of hands” the country prides itself on being.
Not only will staging the World Cups fill up Rugby Australia’s coffers, it will inject $2.5 billion into the Australian economy.
Already World Rugby officials have been blown away.
With the devastating rain passing over the weekend, they saw Sydney in all its glory on Sunday as they ate Bondi’s Icebergs.
By Monday morning, they saw the best the city has to offer as the sun rays sparkled on the harbour.
If it was not for good practice, World Rugby’s power figures would have signed the dotted line right there and then.
Unlike previously in 2017, when France sensationally won the 2023 World Cup rights despite South Africa previously being awarded World Rugby’s tick of approval, World Rugby does not expect any curveballs.
“I think the difference this time round, and we’ve reflected on those processes in the past, and other sports have done that as well and you’ve seen that obviously in the way that the Olympics have been awarded to Brisbane, what we have done is say that’s not helpful,” Gilpin said.
“We want to target certain countries, certain host nations, I think it’s no secret that we’ve been speaking to Australia about ’27 and ’29 for a long time, the same with the USA for ’31 and now ’33, and that’s very deliberate.
“We’re not talking to anybody else about ’27 and ’29, so it’s a real opportunity.”
The benefits are plentiful.
The announcement will give the game a second chance after previously blowing their $45 million cash windfall from staging the 2003 tournament, with RA CEO Andy Marinos expecting between $50-60m to be banked from staging the 2027 edition.
“Ballpark, you are going to get a little bit more than we got in 2003, so $50-60m I would hope is coming through,” Marinos said.
“But for me, the benefits are also indirect because we are going to build a strong commercial program and pathways and a legacy program which by its very nature will generate commercial revenue for the game.”
It also sets up a golden decade ahead, with a British and Irish Lions series in 2025 and the Brisbane Olympics book-ending the events on the horizon.
The Lions series particularly will provide another huge cash injection, with approximately another $50m lightly to be poured into the game in Australia after the then-Australian Rugby Union banked $40m from the 2013 series.
And given last year’s series against the world champion Springboks was played behind closed doors, it is expected the Lions will come armed with an army of fans.
Throw in the prospect of private equity, which will be ironed out once the World Cup rights are confirmed and interest builds, and RA, for the first time in years, at last is back in the ballgame.
It will give RA the chance to invest in the game’s grassroots, including engaging with more women and pay all its players a full-time wage, strengthen its pathways, build commercial interest and keep players of national interest in the game.
“It’s huge, it’s huge for us in terms of really being able to reset our whole landscape,” Marinos said.
“It’s not only about the revenue that you can generate out of the events, it’s a total effect on that and being able to bring new commercial partners, re-engage with broadcast partners, we’re living in an interesting age where the broadcast and digital world is going through a seismic change, and I think events like this, not only World Cups, but the Lions tours and leading into the Olympics, creates a whole diversified offering that, if we’re smart and strategic, we can really capitalise on it.”
RA Chairman Hamish McLennan said the latest developments were “positive” and would ultimately see the wider Australian community benefit.
“We’re planning on creating thousands of once-in-a-generation jobs for young people across sports marketing, hospitality, digital economy and administration.”