McLennan open to allowing New Zealand to host potential 2027 World Cup games

Rugby World Cup
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan says he would be open to giving New Zealand a pool to host should Australia win the rights to the 2027 World Cup.

Australia (2003) and New Zealand (2011) have both been standalone hosts once and shared the duties in the inaugural tournament in 1987.

There was speculation when Australia originally announced its bid that there was the option joint hosting with New Zealand but Rugby AU has pursued the solo rights.

The organisation has set up an advisory board to oversee the bid process, that includes McLennan and former Prime Minister John Howard and ex-Wallabies skipper John Eales.

McLennan, who has officially been in the job for just over a week, said he would be open to giving New Zealand some matches in that tournament. 

"We really want to win it and if you got a few pool games or a pool, I’d be up for that,” he said on Sky Sports' Breakdown in New Zealand.

"I want to have a friendly and co-operative relationship with you guys. You're a fantastic rugby nation.

"When it comes to the World Cup, we've put an advisory board together that's second to none."

Australia already appears to be one of the main contenders for the 2027 tournament after Argentina pulled out of the running earlier this year, leaving Russia and possibly the USA as the only other nations publicly contemplating bids.

McLennan said he believed all four SANZAAR nations were supportive for the Australian bid.

“The SANZAAR nations have to stick together," he said.

"If we can secure the World Cup that would be great for the game in this part of the world and it is due to come down to the southern hemisphere.

"My understanding is the Argentinians and the South Africans are notionally supporting our bids. So we’ve got to give it a real shot.”

McLennan also continued to express Australia's desire for a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition from 2021 but admitted there was still work to do on ensuring Australia had the depth for five teams.

"When you talk to the broadcasters, we think if we were able to do something with New Zealand that would be optimal and everyone thinks that a trans-Tasman competition where we field good teams, proper teams with depth will be the best way forward," he said.

"The pandemic's just taught us you can't take anything for granted so we're really committed at a SANZAAR level, we want the TRC to continue but the realities are in our two countries we've got a bubble, we're lucky compared to virtually everyone else around the world.

"I think the best competition from my perspective would be if we got something going with New Zealand, maybe throw in a Pacific Island team if that's at all doable and build from there."

Under a trans-Tasman model, McLennan has backed the inclusion of five Australian teams but admitted on Tuesday that there was work to do to ensure that Australia had the depth for that.

"At the moment I'd probably say the depth isn't quite there but we've got to try and build a competition for the long-term," he said.

"I'd consider opening more spots up to overseas players so just depending on how things go through the COVID process.

"If there are international players that can come down and play part of our competition with you guys, I think that would add a lot of interest."

Super Rugby AU kicks off on Friday July 3 with the Reds hosting the Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium, kicking off at 7:05pm AEST, LIVE on Foxtel, Foxtel Now and Kayo Sports. Buy a Kayo sports subscription here.