New Zealand won the hosting rights for the next women's Rugby World Cup, and some Aussies are not happy.
New South Wales sports minister Stuart Ayres has suggested Australia's failure to win the hosting rights to the 2021 women's World Cup came down to a "pre-established position" that New Zealand should host the event.
Ayres said the World Rugby Council vote, which fell 25-17 in New Zealand's favor two weeks ago, despite an understanding of $ 7 million ($ 7.45 million) gap in government funding commitments between the two unions, would not deter the NSW Government from backing the Sport's bid for the 2027 men's World Cup.
"What I saw of the process suggested to me was a strong desire to push it to New Zealand and that pre-established position was more important to World Rugby than the quality of the Australian bid," he said.
"We were so disappointed that we could not secure it, we thought we had a great bid, but we will recover from that and go away and look at other ways we can promote women's rugby in NSW in partnership with Rugby Australia . "
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The decision was a major blow to RA, which also finds itself in a crossroads with under-performing Wallabies and growing disillusionment among fans.
A December 10 board meeting still looms as the most likely timing for a decision on the future of Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, but the continued struggles of the test side are just one of the issues the board and management must navigate.
Super Rugby Negotiations, already delayed a few months, will reach a tipping point when World Rugby makes a call on the World League proposal, while domestically RA will have to decide whether to press ahead with plans to bid for the World's 2027 Men Cup.
The experience in Dublin two weeks ago may have given every pause for thought. The Sydney Morning Herald understands New Zealand Rugby's bid included A $ 3 million (NZ $ 3.19 million) of guaranteed government funding for the tournament, a figure well short of the $ 10 million (NZ $ 10.64 million) pledge by the NSW and the federal governments.
It also appears that Australia's "athlete village" concept, a first in the tournament's history that would put all players in the picturesque Crowne Plaza resort at the Hunter Valley, could not compete with the heartfelt pitch of Kiwis to take the World Cup back to – in Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's words – "the home of women's rugby".
Ayres said despite the disappointing result, the NSW Government looked forward to supporting RA's bid to bring the men's tournament back to Australia for the first time since 2003.
"We will work very closely with the ARU around developing a strong bid for 2027. We know that we have great runs on the board for not just international rugby but large scale international events .And I think it's time for the RWC to come back to Australia, "he said.
While it's early days for the 2027 event, it appears Australia would be in a battle chance if they could secure the estimated $ 120 million-odd (NZ127 million) of government funding for the event. Argentina and the United States have expressed their interest, while South Africa – who lost to France in controversial circumstances for the World Cup 2023 – have indicated that they will not try again.
History would suggest a southern hemisphere nation would stand a good chance of winning the rights after three consecutive World Cups in the north (England 2015, Japan 2019, France 2023) and there are doubts over whether Argentina would be a suitable host nation given the nation's economic circumstances.
But the US is almost emerging as the dark horse for 2027. While the home of the 12th ranked USA Eagles is well and truly still in emerging rugby nation, World Rugby could see this as an irresistible opportunity for exposure in a lucrative sporting market.
"I think they are our greatest opponent," Ayres said. "If they stay in the north it will be a 'new market' World Cup. My good tells me it might be just one World Cup too early and it will be easy to cycle back to the northern hemisphere in 2031 and into the US when It may be a bit more mature, but of all the nations that can bid the US is the one I'll be watching most closely. "