Australia could host first $1billion RWC

Australia could host the first billion dollar Rugby World Cup at the 2027 men's event.
Australia could host the first billion dollar Rugby World Cup at the 2027 men's event.

World Rugby believes the first billion dollar World Cup will take place within the next decade - and that landmark event could be the 2027 men's tournament in Australia.

The game's global organisers say they've mapped out "a mandate for the future of the sport" by announcing on Thursday the next five hosts of men's and women's World Cups through to 2033.

A council meeting in Dublin approved Australia to stage the 2027 men's and 2029 women's events, England for the 2025 women's tournament, and the US to host the men in 2031 and women in 2033.

World Rugby chief executive Alan Gilpin was asked if America's historic first men's event in 2031 could prove the first billion dollar World Cup in the sport.

The question seemed pertinent after WR chairman Bill Beaumont had described the US's untapped sporting market as "the golden nugget that everybody wants to get hold of".

Yet Gilpin's response suggested the 2027 event in Australia could prove just as big a money-spinner four years earlier.

"We will for sure see a tournament that's bigger than a billion dollar World Cup - I'm hoping we get there in one of the ones before 2031," he said.

"We have some good confidence in our colleagues at Rugby Australia about that."

The awarding of the two World Cups to Australia has been hailed as a game-changer for cash-strapped rugby in the country.

The 2027 event is projected to bring in more than two million visitors across seven weeks, including 200,000 from abroad, and generate a $2.8 billion economy boost.

But one early key question is yet to be decided - where will the 2027 final be held?

Andy Marinos, Rugby Australia CEO, was giving nothing away at the post-council press conference when asked how close RA were to nailing down the final venue and whether the idea of the first 100,000 World Cup crowd at an MCG showdown would be a magnetic one.

"Well, the venue for the final's already been done," Marinos said, before laughing: "No, no ... we're working on that detail now with Alan Gilpin and the team at World Rugby.

"What's really fantastic about having it in Australia is that we've got at least three stadiums that have the size, the capacity to host it and, yes, we have one that can get to the magical 100,000 mark.

"But there are another two that are up in the high 90,000s so there's a lot of good choice. We've just got to look at it in terms of where are we going to get the best impact for the game across the country."

Double World Cup-winning Wallaby Phil Kearns, who's triumphed again as spearhead of Australia's bid, reckoned it was a day to end all the negativity that's been surrounding the sport.

"This is amazing for Australian rugby," he said. "We've got a huge opportunity. There's been some negativity around our game in Australia for a while - but that stops right here.

"This is the day that stops, it's all upwards for Australia. We've got the most amazing venues around the country, we're going to show our whole country off from wine tours to art tours - to the rugby as well."

Australian Associated Press