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Gregan excited about 'incredible' opportunity as World Cups returns to Australia

Fri, 13/05/2022, 3:20 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson

Wallabies legend George Gregan could barely hide his excitement as the Rugby World Cup to Australian soil, hoping they can replicate the incredible 'festival' of 2003.

Confirmation overnight by World Rugby locked in Rugby World Cup 2027 and 2029 on Australian soil, which will mark the first time a country has hosted the men's event three times.

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Along with this, it will be the first time Australia will host the women's event, setting up a stacked calendar of hallmark events for the next decade.

“It’s great news isn’t it? Obviously, there was talk and debate about who was going to get it so it’s really nice to see Rugby Australia and the country get behind two back-to-back national event," Gregan told Rugby.com.au

“The energy these events can bring to a country and the people involved supporting is incredible."

No one knows the power of a home World Cup more than Gregan, captaining the Wallabies in 2003 to the Final.

Whilst the hosts' aspirations of back-to-back titles were crushed by the right foot of Jonny Wilkinson, Gregan likened the atmosphere to the 2000 Olympics, confident Australia will once again embrace the event.

“Being able to host something like this, it’s amazing, it’s no different (feeling) from the 2000 Olympics if you speak to those who were lucky enough to compete in Australia…there’s just moments like that which stand out and to do it in your own country is incredible because you get the support of your family, loved ones and your nation,” he reflected.

“The final was pretty epic going to extra time and everyone knows about Johnny going on his right foot but the effort and energy everyone put into that campaign was something I’m immensely proud of.

“Probably the thing which I remember the most about the World Cup was the celebration of Rugby across the country. I think Japan were up in Townsville, matches played in Tasmania, Perth, (and) Adelaide, we even played in before what it is now. We had (former Australian cricketer and coach) Darren Lehmann come and joined the team.

“We went on to play Ireland on Derby Day…I think they ran out of beer at half-time but it was just that type of events for stories to be told and culminated with two teams getting to the pointy end. It was a wonderful trip and I think Australia really supported that campaign really well.”

With competition in the sporting landscape continuing to grow, Gregan was confident this announcement along with the impending Lions Tour in 2025 and the 2032 Olympics in Brisbane provide the sport with a major carrot to attract the next generation heading forward.

“I think part of it seeing the young kids here today is getting them motivated and excited about Rugby, getting behind their teams and heroes. Seeing an international smorgasbord of sport will motivate and inspire the next generation,” Gregan believes.

“Australia’s a very competitive landscape for sport and moments, events, experiences like this help get (rugby) right in front and right in the mindset around (knowing) this is an incredible international game around the world and competing and celebrating what it is a great game.

“I think when a World Cup, you’ve got people from all around the world making sure they lock in that period of time out of their life and make sure they support their team in what will be a Rugby festival.

“That’s not different across the world. In 2015 in England, the hotel I stayed at the Pumas (fans) were staying at but they were supporters there to support Argentina. They were just there to be part of the activity and support and they went pretty deep but that’s the Rugby World Cup and what we have for the next six or eight years which is going to be exciting.”

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