With Australia winning the rights to host the 2027 Rugby World Cup, as well as its women’s counterpart event in 2029, we are set to be in for a huge decade of world sport right in our own backyard.
It will be the first time since 2003 that Australia has hosted the men’s event, when the Wallabies reached the final only to be sunk by the golden boot of Jonny Wilkinson after they’d beaten the All Blacks in the preceding semi-final, and Namibia by a record 142-0 in the pool stage.
As for the women’s event, which will be held in 2029, Australia will play host for the first time. Australia’s best result coming at the 2010 event when they finished third.
This news comes a month after it was announced that Victoria would host the 2026 Commonwealth Games; that will come only eight years after the Gold Coast hosted the 2018 event which proved to be a major economical success for the region.
It sets Australia up for what promises to be a huge decade of world sport as the country continues its financial and economic recovery from COVID-19 and its debilitating lockdowns which stripped Australians of their everyday lives.
First off, we have the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup to look forward to, which gets underway in July next year with the first match to be played at Eden Park in Auckland, and the final to be played at Stadium Australia in Sydney.
This tournament will jointly be hosted by Australia and New Zealand, making this the second time that the two countries have jointly hosted a world sporting event, following the 2015 Cricket World Cup in which both those nations faced off in the final at the MCG.
Australians would be excited at the prospect of seeing Sam Kerr lead the Matildas out onto the Olympic Stadium for the final, though this would be a huge call considering the Matildas’ best result at a Women’s World Cup was reaching the quarter-finals in 2007, 2011 and 2015.
They have however won one Asian Cup, in 2010, defeating North Korea on penalties in the final with Kerr scoring their only regular time goal, and just missed out on a Bronze Medal at last year’s rescheduled Tokyo Olympics.
Needless to say, it will be the biggest sporting event outside of an Olympics or Commonwealth Games to be held in Australia, and it could possibly be the first and biggest to be held without any restrictions since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020.
On New Zealand’s end it will be their biggest sporting event since the 2011 Rugby World Cup, which the home side the All Blacks won by beating France in the final, though on that occasion they fully hosted that tournament rather than shared hosting rights with another country.
The country will also host the rescheduled Women’s Rugby World Cup later this year, with the Black Ferns and Wallaroos drawn in the same pool.
In 2026, the Commonwealth Games will return to Australia, with Victoria as a state to host the event, unlike in 2006 when the majority of sporting events were held in Melbourne.
While the Melbourne Cricket Ground will host at least the Opening Ceremony, the majority of events will be held in regional areas with sporting hubs to be set up in Geelong, Ballarat, Gippsland and Bendigo.
Games chiefs had struggled to find a host city for the 2026 event after Birmingham, which was due to host the event then, assumed this year’s showpiece, to be held this July-August, after Durban were stripped of the hosting rights in 2017.
Therefore, they asked the Victorian government to once again host the event, as they did two decades ago, though this time it will be a mostly regional event, with state premier Daniel Andrews saying “this would not be a re-run of 2006”.
Nonetheless, it would further reinforce Melbourne as one of the sporting capitals of the world, the city already playing host to several events such as tennis’ Australian Open, the Formula One Grand Prix and the Boxing Day cricket Test to name a few.
It will very likely be held in the month of March, meaning a possible delayed start to both the AFL and NRL seasons.
Australian sporting fans will be hoping for another successful performance by the athletes in four years’ time, having topped the gold medal count at both Melbourne in 2006 and the Gold Coast in 2018.
That will be the forerunner to the Brisbane Olympics and Paralympics six years later, which will see two of the world’s biggest sporting events return Down Under for the first time since the massive success that was the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
The Gabba, which will host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies as well as the athletics events, will be knocked down and rebuilt, meaning the AFL’s Brisbane Lions and Big Bash’s Brisbane Heat will have to relocate for that period of time, most likely down the road to Carrara Stadium.
Both the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held during our meteorological winter, and how it will impact the NRL and AFL seasons will remain to be seen.
The seasons could either be paused for up to a month, possibly resulting in an October Grand Final, or brought forward as was the case in 2000 when the NRL season started in the first weekend of February, and the AFL in the second weekend of March.
Though it is still over a decade away, Olympic and Paralympic chiefs will be hoping that the Brisbane Games are just as successful as the Sydney Games, both economically and from a team performance point of view.
While Stadium Australia is the most logical choice where the Rugby World Cup final could be held, Melbourne and Perth are also bidding for the showpiece match, with Brisbane ruled out due to its largest stadium (Suncorp Stadium) holding a maximum of just over 50,000 people.
It is stipulated that a stadium must have a capacity of over 60,000 in order for the final to be played there; apart from Stadium Australia, the MCG and Optus Stadium in Perth are the only two other grounds in Australia that meet that capacity threshold.
Rugby fans would be hoping for a resurgence from the Wallabies, who haven’t won the sport’s holy grail since 1999 and have since twice fallen short in the final, losing to England and New Zealand in 2003 and 2015 respectively.
Similarly, when the women’s tournament comes around in 2029, the Wallaroos would be hoping to ride the support of the fans as they look to reach a final for the first time.
All up, there is a huge smorgasbord of world events for Australian sporting events to enjoy as we continue our financial and economic recovery from COVID-19, starting with:
* 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup
* 2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria
* 2027 Rugby World Cup
* 2029 Women’s Rugby World Cup
And the big one…
* 2032 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Brisbane
As they say – let the games begin!