Stadia key in Australia's World Cup hopes

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Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Australia could be in the box seat to host the 2027 Rugby World Cup, as a review looms into the next bid process.

World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper is in Australia this week, set to meet with new Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle on Monday and in the midst of 2019 Rugby World Cup broadcast negotiations.  

While the international body is settling on a company to conduct the review, Gosper conceded the controversial technical recommendation would potentially be on the way out.   

The process was a new one for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, with the Rugby World Cup board publicising a recommendation that South Africa should host the tournament.

Even that scoring was hotly debated, with South Africa scoring highest on safety scales, but it proved a moot point, when France was voted by the World Rugby Council as a shock winner to host.

World Rugby's head honchos were quizzed over their Rugby World Cup process on Wednesday. Photo: Getty Images“It was difficult. I'm sure that's one of the aspects that will be examined," he said.  

“(We’ll) make a technical report, maybe there's a points winner but it's not necessarily the recommendation.

 “France were very close on points to the South Africans on the Rugby World Cup board's analysis.

“As it turns out, the guarantees and the money and so on from the French bid is significantly higher than the other two, so we are not in a bad place I would say. 

“But that, if you like, that perceived contradiction is something that is difficult to explain.” 

“It's possible (that will go),” Gosper said. 

“It was felt at the time of that decision that if the Rugby World Cup's going to manage a process of technical analysis then they should stick their necks out and recommend.  

“As it turned out, that contradiction played out.  

Allianz Stadium is set to be demolished and rebuilt. Photo: Getty ImagesThe quality of stadia in Australia will no doubt be a critical element in deciding on the bid winner come the 2027 process, and the proposed $2 billion move to demolish Allianz Stadium and upgrade ANZ Stadium would no doubt boost Australia’s chances.

It’s a decision that has come under heat in Sydney for the sheer cost, but there’s no doubt it would be an invaluable boost for Australia in the process.

“It is part of the assessment and was part of this assessment with the recent World Cup,” he said.

“I would imagine in a process going forward if there is a technical assessment, the modernity, the user-friendliness of your stadia counts for a lot, yeah.”

Gosper is in Australia this week, set to meet with Castle on Monday.

"We're in the middle of our broadcast negotiations for the World cup in Japan so we've lined up meetings with NZ media here in Australia and then over the next few days with some Australian broadcasters, there seems to be a lot of interest and hopefully a lot of competition for that event,” he said.

"And also to meet the new CEO Raelene Castle. We're spending a day with her on Monday to get to know what's on her mind, what's on our mind. First [informal] meeting was very positive and constructive.

"She knows her way around the sporting landscape, she's very personable and constructive in the way she converses, so we're looking forward to that meeting on Monday.”

Andrew Forrest has unveiled more details of his new competition. Photo: Getty ImagesOne of the points Gosper and Castle will be discussing is the progress of Andrew Forrest’s Indo Pacific Rugby Championship, though Gosper said that would go through Rugby Australia approvals first. 

Castle is also set to travel to WA this week, with the possibility of meeting with Forrest.

"I think we'll have a conversation about that, it's been an ongoing development for the ARU but it also involves other geographies and other unions," Gosper said.

"But this is something that, if it happens, has to be approved by Rugby AU first, before it goes anywhere else.

"There are some delicate issues around player movement, rival competitions, calendar and all the rest of it.

"But there certainly seem to be some constructive dialogue going on in that area and for World Rugby, if someone is intending to invest the kind of money we are talking about in other parts of the region, that's interesting for us.   

"It's not every day you get a third party investor coming along to talk in that manner with that amount of money.

“We hope something comes out of this, where the investment happens in a good way for everyone.”