Rugby Australia launched bids to host the men's Rugby World Cup in '27 and the women's event in '21 according to Greg Stutchbury of REUTERS. The day after the organization introduced Raelene Castle as its first female CEO, it also announced a national women’s 15-a-side tournament starting next March. It will "complement" the sevens competition launched this year to capitalize on the success of the Australian women’s team at the Rio Games, where it won rugby’s first Olympic Gold Medal since '24. The 2019 Rugby World Cup will be held in Japan, while the '23 event "was controversially awarded to France last month." Australia has "never hosted the women's World Cup." RA said last month that it was "interested in hosting future World Cups," with the decision by the NSW state government to spend around A$2B ($1.5B) demolishing and renovating three Sydney venues a factor in Wednesday’s announcement. South Africa, which has bid for the last four World Cups, has not hosted the event since '95 and "could loom" as a "major" challenger for Australia in '27, while New Zealand "may throw its hat into the ring" for the '21 women’s tournament (REUTERS, 12/12). In Sydney, James Buckley reported a revamped 75,000-capacity ANZ Stadium "would potentially host a World Cup final, should the bid be successful," while the 45,000-seat rebuilt Allianz would offer a second venue in the harbor city. Parramatta Stadium, undergoing a 30,000-seat rebuild, has "already been earmarked to host the women's World Cup games should that bid be successful." Outgoing RA CEO Bill Pulver said, "If the NSW government had not committed to the current stadia strategy they announced, I'm pretty sure we would not have made a bid for the 2027 World Cup because our stadia simply would not have been adequate, they would not have been world class." Australia had been "expected to target" the 2031 World Cup. Australia is "also due to host" the British & Irish Lions tour in '25, by which time the NSW government's stadiums revamp "should be complete" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 12/13).
'EXCITING TIME': The London GUARDIAN reported RA also announced a domestic Super W competition of women's XV rugby would run in March for six weeks and be contested between Queensland, NSW, ACT, Victoria and Western Australia. RA Chair Cameron Clyne said, "There has never been a more exciting time in the women's game, and we are looking forward to the inaugural Super W competition kicking off in March." When Australia last hosted the men’s Rugby World Cup, more than 1.8 million spectators attended the 48 matches spread across 10 towns, and A$300M was injected into the local economy (GUARDIAN, 12/12).
SIZING UP THE COMPETITION: In Sydney, Wayne Smith wrote World Rugby initially "anointed" South Africa for the '23 tournament, but France "unexpectedly came through to claim the prize." Rather than having the Webb Ellis Cup return to the southern hemisphere after the '19 event in Japan, France’s win "meant that the northern hemisphere would host three World Cups in succession." Suddenly, that "opened up an unexpected opportunity for Australia." South Africa will start off as the "sentimental" favorite to host the men's RWC in '27. The "real threat," however, is likely to be Argentina, which, ever since Gus Pichot became deputy chair of World Rugby, has "regarded itself as the next likely southern hemisphere host nation." There is "no doubt that Pichot will push hard," especially if he succeeds Bill Beaumont as World Rugby chair, but "certainly there will be concerns about its economy and political instability." That said, the expectation is that Argentina will be awarded the 2030 football World Cup, so there is "little doubt" that the country will have state-of-the-art facilities (THE AUSTRALIAN, 12/14).