Heady days for rugby in Australia: World Cups in 2027, 2029

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — The excitement level Down Under of having two Rugby World Cup tournaments tossed their way — the men in 2027 and the women two years later — was sort of lost on Wallabies captain Michael Hooper.

“I will be in the stands with a beer in hand,” the 117-test veteran said not long after World Rugby made the announcement in Dublin on Thursday night.

Hooper, who could be 36 years old depending on the timing of the 2027 version, admits he’ll miss the experience if he does in fact retire by then.

“How good will that be, to be a part of rugby and to experience it on the other side of the fence,” Hooper told the Australian Associated Press. “It would be awesome to be a part of but I’ve been absolutely so lucky with my career.”

Hooper said next year’s World Cup in France would likely be his last with the Australian team.

“You never say never,” Hooper said. “But I’ve got this 18-month period and the Tuesdays get harder and harder and it’s like ‘how much you are willing to take for the rewards?’ It’s a slog at times.”World Rugby rubber-stamped Australia’s hosting rights for the 2027 and 2029 tournaments following a final vote in Dublin. Rugby Australia officials were so convinced they’d secure both tournaments after previously gaining preferred host status that they organized to have the Sydney Harbour Bridge lit up in green and gold — the national sporting colors — three hours before the announcement.

The 2027 men’s even is expected to attract more than 2 million people over seven weeks of competition at eight or 10 venues across the country, including 200,000 international visitors.

In other hosting announcements, the Rugby World Cup will be staged in the U.S. for the first time after being voted as the host of the men’s event in 2031 and the women’s tournament two years later.

England was given hosting rights to the women’s tournament in 2025. The next women’s Rugby World Cup will be played from Oct. 8-Nov. 12 this year in New Zealand, delayed from its original March 2021 date due to the COVID-19 pandemic.