Rugby Australia announced Tuesday that it had recruited heavy-hitters from business and politics, including former prime minister John Howard, to boost its bid for the 2027 World Cup.
Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan said he had formed a seven-person advisory board of prominent rugby supporters that aimed to deliver “a knockout bid” for the showpiece tournament.
“I am honoured that each of these incredibly successful individuals has agreed to get behind this important project,” said McLennan, who took over last month with the sport in disarray.
The 2027 World Cup is seen as a way to unite a sport struggling with financial difficulties, the Wallabies’ slide to seventh in the world rankings and bitter infighting.
The advisory board includes Howard, former governor-general Peter Cosgrove, Wallabies great John Eales and ex-British Airways boss Rod Eddington.
Other members are McLennan, Olivia Wirth from major Wallabies sponsor Qantas and mining executive Elizabeth Gaines.
Two-time champions Australia last staged the World Cup in 2003, when Howard was prime minister. He presented the trophy to England after they broke the hearts of the hosts with an extra-time victory in the Sydney final.
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The southern hemisphere nation is regarded as the frontrunner for 2027, even though the bidding process will not officially start until November, with a decision due next year.
Argentina pulled out of the running last month and the only other country to publicly express interest is Russia, although there would likely be resistance to holding back to-back tournaments in Europe after France 2023.
Eddington, who will chair the board, said a winning bid for Australia would be “transformational for the game and provide a huge economic windfall for the country”.