Australian bid for women's World Cup spurns major cities

Raelene Castle

With last year's record low turnout of 54,846, the August 18 Bledisloe opener is threatening once again to be played out in front of empty seats, with the Australian public's interest in rugby union apparently at an all time low following poor results from the Wallabies and the Australian Super Rugby contingent.

Women's sevens was thriving, Australia had just won gold at Rio, but the traditional game was suffering.

"Australia is #READY to host the Women's Rugby World Cup and the Newcastle and Hunter region is the ideal location to deliver a record-breaking tournament in a truly Australian style - fun, vibrant, exciting, inclusive and innovative".

The 12-team tournament, held eight times previously, was a huge success in Ireland in 2017 and Rugby Australia are keen to bring it to the southern hemisphere for the first time. It has chosen Newcastle and the surrounding Hunter region to host the event.

RA chief executive Raelene Castle told the NSW Parliament stadiums inquiry on Monday that 45,000 tickets had been sold to next Saturday's match at ANZ Stadium, leaving the organisation with little time to bridge a gap of nearly 10,000 tickets to better the 54,846 who attended in 2017.

Castle has announced Newcastle and the Hunter region in NSW will host the tournament, if the bid is approved.

Rugby Australia has also created an Impact Beyond program, as part of its bid to ensure a lasting legacy for the WRWC on young girls and boys across Australia.

World's top 20 teams have secured their place in the 2019 tournament and unsurprisingly, the only Asian team that would be playing RWC 2019, is the hosts, Japan.

"They (World Rugby) will have confidence that we are going to be able to deliver a successful tournament and really take the women's World Cup to the next level".

Next week's match will make history as the first Wallaroos-Wallabies test match double-header on Australian soil.

"That makes sense from a practical point of view the fact that you would turn all future rugby Tests into double headers", she said.

"There's no doubt now that every tier one nation has an established and developing women's programme so that's certainly an evolution that I can see in the future".

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