A legion of former Wallabies today expressed their excitement that the code will be turbo-charged by the Rugby World Cup returning to Australia in 2027.
The World Rugby council decision to anoint Australia with “preferred candidate’ status ahead of May’s formal vote virtually assures hosting rights are locked in.
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Dialogue will proceed exclusively with Australia on a hosting model which mirrors the process that saw Brisbane awarded the 2032 Olympics.
The process has been streamlined to prevent another situation like 2017 in London where the council overturned a recommendation that South Africa was best equipped to stage the event by voting for France as 2023 World Cup host.
Former Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock said he was delighted with the nod for Australia, especially after being immersed in the 2003 World Cup when the tournament was last held on home soil.
“I was lucky enough to participate in the last World Cup in Australia. I have nothing but amazing memories,” Mortlock said.
“To have family, friends and people in the rugby fraternity engaged made that six-to-eight weeks an unbelievable period of time in Australia. It will be again in 2027.
“Australia has a great runway with the British and Irish Lions heading here in 2025 and the World Cup in 2027. It’s a really exciting time for rugby and I’d add the same about the USA being the preferred candidate for the 2031 tournament.”
Mortlock’s classic intercept try to help sink the All Blacks in the epic 2003 World Cup semi-final in Sydney was a signature play in his storied 80-Test career.
“Categorically, that’s the moment that people still want to talk about to this day. Hopefully, in six years a Wallaby can do the same thing and we go a step further in the final.”
Former Wallabies skipper Stephen Moore said the upbeat news comes at a perfect time for Australian rugby.
“There’s the financial part that will be a great boost after a testing time but the experience for Australian fans to share in a tournament like this is fantastic,” said Moore, who led the Wallabies to the 2015 final.
“The capacity for Australia to deliver major events like the Olympics and Rugby World Cup is proven.
“I was not long out of school at 20 when the last World Cup was held in Australia in 2003. It was a brilliant time. I remember snapping up some $5 tickets with mates to watch France-Fiji to be a part of it at Suncorp Stadium.
“The World Cup will attract fans from Townsville to Perth and people who don’t normally take an interest in rugby so there is that opportunity to increase future participation as well.”
Former Wallabies hooker Jeremy Paul, a 1999 World Cup-winner, felt immediate exhilaration when relayed the news.
“You can’t be a professional sport these days without money. This is brilliant news about 2027 because it means the survival of rugby in Australia,” Paul said.
“Financially, we need this desperately.
“It also brings on the nostalgia of the 2003 World Cup in Australia. What a vibe around the country.
“The atmosphere around a Rugby World Cup is one of the greatest. The fan base for the game knows how to enjoy themselves.
“I think the Wallabies have a good nucleus of young players and senior guys heading towards France in 2023 and hopefully that trend continues.”
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The news reached 1999 World-Cup-winner Matt Cockbain in Japan where he is coaching.
“This is a tremendous result for the rugby community in Australia and our close neighbours,” he said.
“Playing at the 2003 World Cup on home soil was a special experience and the support for the Wallabies at home will be a huge boost for the players.
“It’s just what rugby needs in Australia. When do tickets go on sale?”
The All Blacks conveyed it as a win for rugby in the southern hemisphere with a big thumbs-up to their one million-plus Twitter followers on social media.
“Congrats @RugbyAU! This is great news for rugby down under,” the All Blacks tweeted from their official account.
Joe Roff, the 1999 World Cup-winning winger, believes the 2027 staging is just what rugby needs in this country.
“Rugby has been in a lull and these big global events are the perfect chance to remind Australians what’s really good about rugby on and off the field,” Roff said.
“We know rugby is in a fierce market for the hearts and minds of young Australians when it comes to sporting choices.
“A 2027 World Cup is that great chance to create heroes and get young people attracted to the game.”