Rugby Confidential: Rugby Australia’s secret dual World Cup bid now out in the open

Australian rugby officials might still be insisting the 2027 World Cup bid is up in the air but it’s a done deal — and so is the secret bid to add the women’s tournament in 2029.

Given the endless problems and false dawns the code has faced in recent years, it is little wonder Rugby Australia’s bosses are keeping a lid on their celebrations after securing the hosting rights for the 2027 Rugby World Cup.

Officials won’t dare say anything out loud because they don’t want to jinx their chances before the formal decision is announced in the early hours of May 13, but take it as read that it is a done deal – and it has been ever since The Daily Telegraph’s worldwide scoop two years ago that Argentina was out of the running, leaving Australia as the only viable contender in the race.

That didn’t mean that another country could not come in at the last minute and try to pinch the event off Australia – which is why the tight-lipped bid team has been insisting it ain’t over til it’s over – but that caper is now up.

Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan and executive director, Rugby World Cup 2027 bid, Phil Kearns with the Wallabies. Picture: Stuart Walmsley/Rugby Australia
Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan and executive director, Rugby World Cup 2027 bid, Phil Kearns with the Wallabies. Picture: Stuart Walmsley/Rugby Australia

Australia’s powerful bidding team have left no stone unturned in their quest to convince World Rugby’s council members that Australia was the safe pair of hands to host the 2027 men’s World Cup bid and the United States was the monster moneymaker to host the 2031 edition.

It all makes perfect sense and the Australian team have done such a great job that all that has to happen now is for World Rugby’s blazers to say ‘yay’ before they rubber stamp both the Aussie and American applications when they meet in Dublin in six weeks.

The final piece that made that all a certainty came in Tuesday night’s budget when the federal government confirmed its longstanding promise to fund the tournament – ensuring that Rugby’s crown jewel will be played in Australia for the third time, after 1987 and 2003.

Rugby Confidential’s snouts in Canberra said that was always a formality, with the only question being when the announcement would be made. World Rugby’s decision on the future hosts is due around the same time as the federal election.

But there was an added sweetener in the coalition’s budget announcement with confirmation the government was also committed to funding Australia’s bid to host the 2029 women’s Rugby World Cup.

Clem Halaholo (L) and Reece Hodge (R) at Australia’s bid launch for the 2027 Rugby World Cup last year. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images
Clem Halaholo (L) and Reece Hodge (R) at Australia’s bid launch for the 2027 Rugby World Cup last year. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

Australia has never hosted the women’s tournament before and officials have been desperately trying to keep the bid plans under their hats after losing out last time to New Zealand, fearing England or the United States could lodge a late counter.

Although The Daily Telegraph broke the news last year, the bid details have been kept so secret that Rugby Australia has still not publicly confirmed it has formally applied for the tournament but that’s about to change.

Rugby Confidential’s sleuths in Ireland say Australia’s plans are so developed that getting the women’s World Cup is also a shoo-in so will be confirmed at the same time as the men’s tournament.

The US … rugby’s sleeping giant, will also be awarded the men’s and women’s World Cups, for 2031 and 2033 respectively.

Secrets don’t last long in this day and age so Rugby Australia is expected to formally confirm its bid within the next week, if not sooner, though the finer details about where the matches will be played will be kept under wraps.

South Africa are the reigning Rugby World Cup champions after their victory in Japan in 2019. Picture: Alamy
South Africa are the reigning Rugby World Cup champions after their victory in Japan in 2019. Picture: Alamy

With seven years to go, there is no rush to decide where to play all the Games, but the main reason for the delays could be that Rugby Australia is still undecided about whether to stage the tournament nationally or hold it in a single region – such as Southeast Queensland, which is about to get a stack of new stadiums ahead of the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

Rugby Australia’s bidding team have however pledged that the 2027 men’s World Cup will be a national event though the details of where all the games will be held is also expected to be saved until well after the hosting announcement is made in May.

SKIPPER IS BACK

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper is poised to play his first match for the Waratahs since 2020.

Hooper spent last season in japan and has been sidelined with injuries this year but was cleared to make his comeback against Fijian Drua, albeit off the bench, before joining the Wallabies in pre-season camp at the Gold Coast next week.

“Having Hoops back in the team is a massive boost for us,” Waratahs head coach Darren Coleman said.

Originally published as Rugby Confidential: Rugby Australia’s secret dual World Cup bid now out in the open

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