Australia will host the men’s 2027 and women’s 2029 Rugby World Cups in a “game changer” for the cash-strapped code Down Under.
The World Rugby Council granted Australia staging rights for the two global showpieces following a final vote in Dublin on Thursday.
It means Australia will become the first country to host three men’s Rugby World Cups, while the women’s tournament comes here for the first time.
Australia had been all but certain to earn both tournaments after previously gaining preferred host status in the streamlined bid process.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge was lit up in green and gold at 6pm in anticipation before Rugby Australia (RA) received the confirmation it was anxiously awaiting almost three hours later.
Wallabies legend Tim Horan, a two-time World Cup winner, tweeted the announcement marked “the most significant moment in Australian rugby history since winning the RWC in 1991 that put rugby on the map in Oz”.
Rugby Australia boss Andy Marinos estimated the two World Cups could bring between $50 and 60 million to the financially-stricken governing body and return the sport to its glory days in Australia.
That forecast came after the organisation considered reverting to amateur status when it recorded a net deficit of $27.1 million for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a historic day for rugby in Australia. We’re beyond thrilled,” said RA chairman Hamish McLennan.
“It’s a game changer for rugby in this country, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to revitalise and secure the future of the sport here and see the game we all love grow and thrive for years to come.”
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper and Wallaroos skipper Shannon Parry believed hosting the two events on top of the 2025 British and Irish Lions tour of Australia in 2025, the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria and the 2032 Olympics in Queensland could inspire a new generation of young players.
“It’s pretty special,” Hooper said.
“The runway from this all comes together in the next 10 years of rugby, not only with these World Cups but with rugby’s involvement in the Olympics and what that looks like.
“It’s a pretty good time to be a young rugby player – or looking to play rugby.”
Australian Women’s Rugby president Josephine Sukkar said “the impact of what this means” couldn’t be overstated.
“The legacy this will create for Australia, the increase in participants. We expect more than 30,000 more men and women participating in the game,” Sukkar said.
Parry expected hosting a women’s World Cup in Australia for the first time would lure young girls to rugby in the same way the women’s Sevens team did after striking gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“To think we’ve got a Commonwealth Games as well, it’s a massive pathway and trajectory to get girls into rugby,” Parry said.
“It’s really exciting. If you’re 15, 16, come five, six, seven years time, you’re probably going to be in that Wallaroos team.”
The 2027 men’s World Cup will come 24 years after the Wallabies lost a gripping extra-time final to England in Sydney and is expected to feature between eight and 10 match venues.
Many other locations will serve as training bases, while art, wine and food trails will be among the lures set to attract tourists seeking more from their experience than rugby.
All told, 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 $2.8 billion boost for the economy.
Organisers said it would create 14,000 jobs and stimulate $500 million in new trade and investment.
Executive director of Australia’s bid, Phil Kearns, also a two-time World Cup winner said it was “a brilliant day for everyone involved in the Australian rugby community and also in the Pacific region”.
Australia isn’t the only nation celebrating, though, with World Rugby announcing England as hosts for the 2025 women’s World Cup and mapping out all destination countries for its global tournaments until 2033.
In a first for the sport, the USA will host the 2031 men’s and 2033 women’s tournaments in the hope of growing interest in the large American market.