2027 Rugby World Cup final venue race heats up, World Rugby chief executive Alan Gilpin interview, Destination NSW Rod McGeoch
“The rugby fraternity in Sydney worked really hard to get it.”
Only three Australian cities — Sydney, Melbourne and Perth — have stadiums big enough to host a World Cup final, with Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, the recently revamped Adelaide Oval and several regional stadiums in the running to host pool matches, quarter- or semi-finals.
Destination NSW will have a fight on their hands to come out on top, with the Victorian Government pushing the Melbourne Cricket Ground’s credentials when the tournament was awarded to Australia in May last year. Perth’s time zone will be more attractive to influential northern hemisphere broadcasters and Optus Stadium has received rave reviews as a Test match venue since the first Bledisloe Test was held there in 2019.
Gilpin said World Rugby, which is the majority owner of the 2027 tournament joint venture with RA, had no preference at this stage and was impressed with the amount of quality venues around the entire country.
He also acknowledged money would be a decisive factor, with the relevant state tourism boards expected to wage a bidding war for the final of a tournament considered to be the third-largest sporting event in the world, behind the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup.
“A big part of the choice is the way the tournament evolves around a host country, where teams are located at team bases, how you move teams around, there are time zone considerations, there are climate considerations, there are venue capacity considerations,” Gilpin said.
“And, we’ve got to be brutally honest about it, it’s also about where can you drive the right yield in terms of revenues. In Rugby World Cups traditionally the 10 biggest matches of the tournament make up — from ticket pricing and ticket certainty perspectives — a huge part of the [profit and loss] of the event.
“As everyone’s aware, the men’s World Cup is the major revenue driver under that four-year cycle of everything we do in the game, so we need to make sure we are maximising the revenue that [the tournament].”
McGeoch would not be drawn on what dollar figure might be attached to an event of that size but said NSW would be doing everything it could to make sure it came out on top. He also acknowledged that a large federal government contribution meant Canberra would have a say in where the final ended up.
“We’ll be absolutely determined to get it,” McGeoch said. “It’s all very well talking about major cities interstate but the reality is when you get past the Super 15 level, we are really where the game is at, as much as I like to see it grow in other states.”
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