Former Wallaby Kearns to lead Australia’s 2027 Rugby World Cup bid
Phil Kearns, the former Australian international and two-time World Cup winner, has been appointed executive director of the country’s bid to host the 2027 Rugby World Cup.
His role will include engaging with governments at all levels as well as international stakeholders including World Rugby member unions.
Kearns will officially start in September on a part-time basis before moving into full-time in February 2021 when the bid process starts, with the decision by World Rugby to be made in May 2022.
He will lead a bid team that includes chair Sir Rod Eddington, former prime minister John Howard, former governor-general Sir Peter Cosgrove and Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates.
Australia will be coming up against Russia, which last month announced it is preparing a bid to host the tournament, with the support of president Vladimir Putin, and possibly USA.
Argentina previously stated an interest in hosting the event but withdrew to back Australia’s campaign.Kearns, who played 67 tests for the Wallabies and was a member of the 1991 and 1999 World Cup-winning squads, was believed to be in the running for Rugby Australia chief executive but said that role was now off the table.
He was a signatory to a letter from former Wallabies captains demanding change at RA and calling on the national governing body’s leadership to resign earlier this year.
Kearns told reporters his acceptance of the 2027 bid role was a vote of confidence in the new RA leadership, headed by chairman Hamish McLennan and interim chief executive Rob Clarke, who replaced Raelene Castle in April.
He said: “I think over the last three or four weeks in particular there’s been a really big shift in confidence in a lot of people that I talk to and I do think it’s heading in the right direction. Hamish and Rob Clarke are talking about the right things, doing the right things...
“One of the things that swayed me was the importance of this in terms of the future financial health of the game. You look at Japan [host of the World Cup in 2019] it generated AU$7.5 billion ($5.37 billion) economic value for Japan and we will be coming out of a downturn of Covid-19 by then so this could be a really critical boost to our economy and to underpin our game.”
France saw off competition from Ireland and South Africa to win hosting rights to the next Rugby World Cup in 2023. It will be the third time in a row a northern hemisphere country has hosted the even after England in 2015 and Japan last year.