Lote Tuqiri winning right to host 2027 Rugby World Cup would put Australian rugby back on the map
International doubles Lote Tuqiri knows better than anyone what the right to host the Rugby World Cup would mean for Australian rugby.
Drawn to the 15-man game before the tournament, the former Wallabies winger was blown away by the scale of rugby’s centerpiece in 2003 and the atmosphere that stretched across the country. .
With Australia being one of only two candidates for 2027 at this stage, USA Rugby announced its candidacy on Thursday. [ET] – Tuqiri is hoping the tournament will return to Down Under once again and that rugby can “get back on the map” across Australia, but also overtake in areas where the game is showing signs of growing locally.
“It was awesome, it was awesome. I remember going to Sydney for the opener against Argentina, because we were based in Coffs Harbor, I wasn’t even in the squad. , I was sitting in the stands with the boys who were a little disappointing. But being a part of that first game, even in this way, gave me a sense of the support not only for us, but for the World Cup in general, ”Tuqiri told ESPN.
“Then to go to Adelaide when we played in Namibia, I know the score was a little off balance, but just nationally and how far the country has embraced the Rugby World Cup; I even remember sitting in the hotel room watching other games and how much buzz and atmosphere, the traveling fans and our expatriate fans here, that created in the stadiums.
“I think it was the quarter-final between Wales and England, it was amazing, I was driving every moment with Wales beating England hopefully but they ended up be on the verge of beating them.
“The Fijians, you saw a Rupeni Caucaunibuca player come of age and show his products to the world. It was a great time for Australian rugby and I hope with this offer that can be created [again].
“If we can bring this 2027 World Cup to Australia, hopefully we can put rugby back on the map; it’s a tough market in Australia and it would get people talking about rugby again. And that delay before the Cup of Rugby World 2027, hopefully in Australia, interest will continue to grow. And I hope this one can be better than that of 2003. “
While Rugby Australia is keen to host games across the country, it is likely that if the offer is accepted some of the bigger games would be transferred to the heart of rugby, especially Brisbane and Sydney.
Perth should be considered to potentially host the final, given its more user-friendly global time zone, as well as the presence of Western Force financier Andrew Forrest and the growing rugby community across Western Australia.
It may be that Optus Stadium and Stadium Australia will end up competing to host the tournament final, if the bid is chosen, while the MCG could also be an option although it does not offer the best viewing experience for sports on rectangular ground.
But a successful bid could be invaluable exposure for one of Australia’s fastest growing regions in West Sydney, which is currently embroiled in some sort of civil war within the Sydney rugby community. at large.
A group of clubs in Shute Shield want to impose participation guidelines on how many teams each club must field, as well as financial turnover requirements, in what could see West Harbor, Western Sydney Two Blues and Penrith forced to merge or, at worst, bend completely.
Having played for West Harbor during his time in Sydney with NSW Waratahs, Tuqiri recognizes the value these clubs bring to the game and the level of talent that exists in the region. He says winning the right to host the 2027 tournament could help encourage some of these kids to persist in the game until their retirement years, with a Home World Cup perhaps enough to take some of the clutches away. rugby league.
“I don’t know if rugby is forgetting it, but we absolutely have to embrace this western Sydney corridor or whatever you call it, there is definitely a lot of talent out there and around,” Tuqiri told ESPN. . “I know from a game point of view, and playing for West Harbor, and even further down to Penrith and Parramatta, there’s a lot of talent playing both codes and there’s a great island community there, and I think it can be a little better embraced ahead of the 2027 World Cup in Australia, if we get it.
“Given the fact that Bankwest Stadium is there, and Stadium Australia, there will be games there, so before that hopefully if we get it back I think that’s an area that we can focus a lot more on.
“The Two Blues, Penrith and other places, I hope people can go there and enjoy the good rugby that is being played there rather than just going there for the [famous] Emu burgers! People know it is one of the fastest growing regions in the country; I don’t think we can let the sleeping dogs lie there, so to speak. “
Fijian-Australian, Tuqiri loved what he saw from the Wallabies camp last year as new coach Dave Rennie made team culture a focus of his first season in charge.
The Wallabies now have a strong Polynesian contingent on the team and Rennie is keen to embrace the diverse cultural backgrounds of his group of players; although some players have proven to be better singers than others.
Rugby Australia also wants to have a strong Pacific flavor as part of its bid for the World Cup.
“I think what Dave Rennie is doing is great, but saying you can’t hit the rusty element [of the Wallabies] too, “Tuqiri said.” But seeing the boys singing Fijian hymns was pretty cool, the boys moving around and doing the Samoan applause. [Fa’ataupati dance], motivate yourself for the game and sing around it.
“And I love that they sang the national anthem in one of the First Nations languages. They’re probably leading the way on that. [in Australian sport], so they have to be patted on the back for that and it can go on. To attract this element and people from different cultural backgrounds you have to embrace them and that’s what rugby definitely does. And that’s definitely a way forward for rugby in Australia, and I think it’s working. “
You can show your support for Australia’s bid by registering here