Former PM Howard, former Wallabies skipper Eales among Rugby Australia World Cup bid board

Rugby World Cup
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Rugby Australia has reinforced its intent to bid for the 2027 Rugby World Cup with a new board set up to oversee the process.

Rugby AU announced its plans to bid for the tournament as early as 2017 and despite the financial challenges the game has faced in recent times, the organisation has been vocal about its hopes to win the hosting rights.

While a business restructure has changed some of the organisation's internal groups that were leading the process, a new advisory board has been set up to help boost Australia's bid.

Sir Rod Eddington AO FTSE will chair the advisory board that also includes Rugby AU chairman Hamish McLennan, former Prime Minister of Australia John Howard, General Sir Peter Cosgrove,John Eales, Fortescue Metals Group Chief Executive Elizabeth Gaines and Qantas Loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth.

McLennan, who officially began his tenure as chairman on Monday, has led the move after making a public commitment to continue with the bid for the tournament last month.

McLennan has been vocal about the value of pursuing Australia's third World Cup, after the inaugural 1987 tournament and the 2003 World Cup.

The former Ten executive said in a statement on Tuesday that the group would be influential in helping Australia succeed in its bid.

“The 2027 Rugby World Cup is an incredible opportunity for rugby and for our country and we have signalled our intentions clearly by bringing together some of the greatest minds in Rugby, politics, business, and the tourism sector to deliver a winning bid for Australia," he said.

“As I announced after I first agreed to become chairman of the board, the 2027 Rugby World Cup bid was one of my top priorities and today we have taken a giant step towards laying the foundations for a successful bid.

“I’m delighted that Sir Rod Eddington has agreed to chair this very important advisory board on behalf of our 2027 Rugby World Cup bid team. I have known Rod for 25 years and he is one of Australia’s leading businessmen and a doyen of the tourism industry, who will lead this group of prominent Australians superbly.

“I am honoured that each of these incredibly successful individuals has agreed to get behind this important project.”

Eddington is currently chair of Infrastructure Australia, who has extensive business experience having worked as CEO of British Airways and Cathay Pacific as well as serving as chair of Visit Victoria for 12 years and also as a director at both JP Morgan and Rio Tinto during his career.

“I’m very proud to accept Hamish’s offer to chair this advisory board and for the opportunity to help lead a project that the whole nation can get behind. I am also thrilled that my fellow board members see the tremendous opportunity that the bid presents for our country and for Rugby.

“This is a terrific group of people who are all passionate about rugby and Australia. These are some of the finest leaders in their fields that Australia has ever produced, and now they are joining forces to help bring a tournament to our shores that will be transformational for the game and provide a huge economic windfall for the country.”

The 2027 and 2031 World Cup hosts will be announced in 2021 with the formal bid process to begin later this year.

The USA appears the main rival to Australia after Argentina pulled out of the race earlier this year.