It may be a bridge too far for captain Michael Hooper, but Wallabies stars say they will be ignoring overseas moves during the next five years to play in a home Rugby World Cup in 2027.
Barring unforeseen disaster, Australia will be to the 2027 Rugby World Cup late on Thursday night at World Rugby meetings in Dublin. Australia is the sole bidder, and the news will be doubly momentous, with the 2029 Women’s Rugby World Cup hosting duties also expected.
After years of permacrisis, the news will be a game changer for Australian rugby, on and off the field.
The 2027 Rugby World Cup and the preceding British and Irish Lions tour in 2025 have the potential to provide a financial windfall of $100 million or more, and Rugby Australia hopes the World Cup will generate a wave of positivity and participation for the game in the build-up.
However, one of the biggest advantages of the World Rugby announcement could be as a powerful retention tool for the Wallabies and Australian Super Rugby teams.
The money on offer in overseas competitions, particularly in Japan, has exploded in recent years, but the 2027 Rugby World Cup will be a huge carrot for players to stay in Australia, particular if Giteau Law picks remain limited.
Speaking at a launch of the new Australian jerseys yesterday, leading players confirmed they would stay for a chance to follow in the footsteps of the 2003 Wallabies.
A home World Cup would be the absolute pinnacle of my career, in-form centre Izzy Perese, 24, said.
To be able to play in front of my family and friends, and the Australian fans. What it is going to bring to Australian sport and rugby, it is definitely going to bring a lot of excitement to the game. There is so much hype with league and AFL, they have so much going for them. Rugby, I feel like we are going through a stage again where we are building and 2027 is just going to be a ripe year.
Star prop Angus Bell, 21, said he would definitely be targeting a World Cup campaign at home in 2027.
A World Cup is the pinnacle of rugby, and to represent your country at a World Cup is probably the best experience you can have in rugby, Bell said.
I definitely want to be in and around the Wallabies in 2027 and hopefully get the chance to represent my country then.
Halfback Jake Gordon, 28, said he would love to be involved in that World Cup.
It’s really hard to predict that far ahead, but I do think it’s a drawcard for a lot of guys around that age, Gordon said. I’m not ruling out the option. I reckon I’ll still be able to go by then.
Hooper, who will be almost 36 at the 2027 World Cup, is a bit less optimistic he’ll be able to make it, saying it is getting harder and harder to get through seasons.
But I know what I would be doing in their [younger players’] situation, Hooper said.
It’s France next year [2023 World Cup] and then what does the next four years look like? How can we be the best team we can possibly be and hopefully defend a World Cup at home. How good.
In terms of a runway for a young player, or even a kid who is at school at the moment, you’re looking at a Lions [tour] in 2025, a couple of Olympics in there as well, 2027 and 2029 World Cup and then a home Olympics, which rugby is all a part of now, what a time to be a part of rugby.
On the Super Rugby front, Hooper will sit out another game for the Waratahs after failing to shake lingering concussion symptoms suffered in a head knock against the Crusaders.
It’s getting there, Hooper said. [I am] going through the protocols of returning to play. It was a pretty significant knock, so it’s just making sure we get it right for the next couple of weeks.
The Waratahs will meet the Hurricanes at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday and coach Darren Coleman has named Ned Hanigan and Paddy Ryan on the bench, just a few days after the experienced pair joined the squad from Japan.
Looking ahead to the Test series against England in July, Hooper said he’d be buoyed by the performances of Australian teams in Super Rugby in recent weeks, particularly their hunger to beat New Zealand teams.
Three Australian sides – the Brumbies, Waratahs and Reds – are all in the top six with three rounds remaining, which is a big improvement on recent years.
Last year Australian teams won two of 25 matches against Kiwi rivals. This year, the Brumbies have already chalked up three straight wins against New Zealand teams, while before doing the same against Moana Pasifika across the ditch.
It’s a bit of a different narrative for Australian rugby at the moment. That’s been really nice, Hooper said.
There’s certainly a hunger about what the teams are wanting to do and the desperation in terms of how they are playing. That has been noticeable.
The Brumbies have been the standout with what they have been doing. They are leading the way at the moment, and we’re growing from strength to strength. We’re in a really neat place at the moment.
We’re probably less experienced in terms of caps than we have been in Super Rugby [previously], but it certainly doesn’t show in terms of how we play and the hunger guys are showing. To get some consistent performances is really nice and that’s a really nice narrative to be a part of.
With three Australian teams guaranteed finals spots, Hooper is happy to see success at other franchises.
It’s great to see those teams win, Hooper said. I’ve definitely been in the camps where you death-ride teams a bit, particularly the Aussie counterparts, and you’re not wanting to see them go well. I think that’s definitely changed for me.
While Hooper’s main focus is playing well for the Waratahs, early plans are being hatched to defeat England in July.
The Wallabies have lost their past eight Tests against Eddie Jones’ England side since 2016.
It’s a great series, Hooper said. It doesn’t feel like that long ago that we were playing in 2016 when they came out here last [and beat Australia 3-0]. A lot has happened since then. It’s a great series to have, 18 months out from a World Cup.
The staff are putting in a heap of time. They’ve known this is on the cards, so they have put in hours and hours [of work]. We’ve got a really good plan.
They’re getting a really good look at us individuals as players playing across Super Rugby. They’re trying to put together pieces of the puzzle of how combinations will look come this England series and how our players and form shaping up now can affect them. They’re just raring to go.
Speaking to [coach] Dave [Rennie], they go six months without coaching anyone, so when we come in after a season they are dead keen. It’s going to be good.
Watch every match of the on the Home of Rugby, Stan Sport. Continues this weekend with Brumbies v Crusaders (Friday 7. 15pm AEST), Blues v Reds (Saturday 4. 30pm AEST) and Waratahs v Hurricanes (Saturday 7. 15pm AEST). All streaming ad-free, live and on demand only on .