Australia is set to stage the men’s Rugby World Cup again after being named as the “preferred candidate” to host the 2027 men’s tournament.
In a new approach to the hosting selection process, the World Rugby council has created a ‘preferred candidate’ phase, effectively giving Australia the go-ahead to work with the governing body to host the event for the first time since 2003.
England was given similar backing on Wednesday to host the 2025 women’s Rugby World Cup.
Australia had been in a contest with the United States to stage the 2027 men’s event but the council has effectively ruled out any duel by now indicating that the 2031 event is likely to go the US.
The council said an “exclusive targeted dialogue” would continue with the US in regard to hosting the 2031 tournament and also a women’s edition at some point in the future.
The final hosting rights will be awarded by the council in May next year, World Rugby added, but Wednesday’s decision effectively means Australia can forge ahead with its plans for one of the world’s biggest sports events.
Rugby Australia Chairman Hamish McLennan declared: “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity and we’re now closer than ever before to making that dream a reality. Game On for Australia 2027!”
The announcement comes six months after Australia formally launched its bid, which sparked a series of community events across the country, with current Wallabies being involved.
The 2027 event is projected to attract more than two million people across seven weeks of competition, including 200,000 international visitors, and generate a $2.5 billion boost for the economy.
Organisers say it will create 13,300 jobs and stimulate $500 million in new trade and investment.
McLennan added: “This is an exciting opportunity to shape a tournament which will continue the growth of our great game across Australia, the Pacific and globally and showcase our country to the world.”
Federal Minister for Sport Richard Colbeck said Australia had another opportunity to “showcase our strength as an international host” and added that the tournament would “provide enormous economic benefits to our nation”.
World Rugby chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont, said in a statement: “The new approach to electing Rugby World Cup hosts is more flexible and collaborative.”
World Rugby, he said, would be “working with potential hosts to optimise… proposals and align them with long-term social and economic development plans for the benefit of their communities and the future expansion of the sport.”
The next women’s Rugby World Cup was postponed until next year in New Zealand due to COVID-19.
The next men’s tournament will be held in France in 2023 with the Wallabies set to play on home soil again in the 2027 edition – 24 years since the hosts reached the 2003 final in Sydney.
It promises to be an exciting period for the sport in Australia, with a British and Irish Lions tour there in 2025 with the World Cup in 2027 being a prelude to an Olympics in Brisbane in 2032.