Rugby Australia’s annus horribilis has continued after New Zealand were awarded the 2021 Women’s World Cup in Dublin on Wednesday.
New Zealand edged out Australia 25-17 despite a late pitch from head of women’s rugby Jilly Collins, CEO Raelene Castle and chairman Cameron Clyne to the 42-member Rugby World council.
Rugby Australia were confident of securing the rights to become the first southern hemisphere nation to host the tournament after securing $10 million in government funding — $7m more than what was promised to New Zealand.
Despite winning support from big hitters England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, New Zealand, who are the current world champions in the men’s and women’s game, picked up the votes of the southern hemisphere nations and countries who won’t have a team in the tournament.
“It’s very disappointing, we really put our best foot forward and the support we’ve had from NSW and the federal government was truly outstanding,” Castle said.
“We put a compelling case together and the presentation went well but unfortunately we didn’t get the votes on the day.
“The feedback was that our presentation and pitch was outstanding and it was a neck and neck race.
“But there is no doubt the Black Ferns with their (on field) success influenced the outcome on the day.”
Jubilant NZ Rugby CEO Steve Tew also praised the Australian bid.
“It’s not very often we compete with Australia and think it’s unfair to win but today was a day that could’ve gone either way,” Tew said.
“They had a very strong bid.”
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said he felt the decision was international recognition for the obsession for rugby in New Zealand.
“It almost felt like the tournament was coming home in being awarded to New Zealand,” Beaumont said.
“If I was a Kiwi, I’d think it’s sort of coming home now.
“Every member of the World Rugby Council would have got a fully documented appraisal of the two bids.
“Then it was just about fine tuning and just what little bits got you excited and that’s what obviously New Zealanders did extremely well.”
Despite the blow, Castle insisted RA’s commitment to women’s rugby remains strong and attentions will now turn to securing the men’s event in 2027.
“It doesn’t change anything in terms of developing our Wallaroos it just means we want to play on home soil and have to go across the Tasman to win the World Cup,” Castle said.
“It’s a great opportunity, it’s in our time zone. It’s a great opportunity for the players’ families to come across to New Zealand to watch them.
“We have already said we’re keen to host the men’s World Cup in 2027 so all of our focus moves to that now.”