A team of Rugby Australia powerbrokers will fly to Europe next month on a mission to convince World Rugby executives that “targeted dialogue” on hosting the 2027 World Cup should begin early next year.
The Herald can reveal RA chair Hamish McLennan, chief executive Andy Marinos, former Wallabies hooker and executive director of the World Cup bid Phil Kearns, World Cup advisory board chair Sir Rod Eddington and Australian Olympic Committee boss John Coates will travel to the UK for of a series of meetings with influential World Rugby figures and powerful European nations.
While they will also attend the Wallabies’ Tests against Scotland, Wales and England, the quartet will be charged with convincing World Rugby that the “targeted dialogue” phase – essentially an acknowledgement that Australia is the favoured host – should begin ahead of the vote for the next World Cup, which will take place in May.
That would all but guarantee Australia as the host of the 2027 tournament. When the Brisbane 2032 Olympics bid progressed to ‘targeted dialogue’ before the final vote was held earlier this year, they had the hosting rights all but secured.
“It’s a little premature to say we have that, at the moment, but we would love to come back with that in our back pocket before the final vote in May,” Kearns told the Herald.
“At the end of the day, the timeline is still the same and the final decision will still be made, in May, but if we can come back with targeted dialogue in our back pocket, that would be wonderful. We saw how that ended up for Brisbane. We hope it can end up the same way for Australia.”
There are also bid votes across Europe which are yet to be secured, and the RA powerbrokers plan to meet with representatives from England, Scotland and Wales ahead of their matches with the Wallabies.
While RA are quietly confident with their current position, the threat the United States pose – despite the woes of their national side, who are yet to qualify for the 2023 World Cup – has highlighted the importance of meeting with influential figures abroad, rather than relying on Zoom and phone calls.
“These meetings are critical. We wouldn’t be taking such a group up there if we didn’t think it was important,” Kearns said.