The staging of the Rugby World Cup in Australia IN 2027 would inspire a whole new generation of Wallabies - just ask Queensland Reds and Wallabies No.8 Harry Wilson.
When Wallaby Harry Wilson excitedly talks about the buzz that the staging of the Rugby World Cup in 2027 would spread through the youth of Australia, he talks from experience.
The high-energy No.8 is a little short on detail but he still remembers the warmth of being involved with his family when the 2003 edition invaded Australia.
That’s fair enough. He was only four at the time when his rugby-mad father Cameron and mum Mandy thought it essential they immerse their three sons in the theatre of their first Rugby World Cup.
The Wilsons packed the family car in Gunnedah in north eastern NSW and set off for the big smoke of Sydney.
Young Harry and elder brothers Sam, 7, and Will, 6, were perched high in the stands of Stadium Australia amongst a massive crowd of 81,350 for opening night when the Wallabies played Argentina.
The country lads had never been in a mass of humanity that large as captain George Gregan and his Wallabies won 24-8 over Los Pumas.
“To hold a World Cup in your own country and play in one is everything you dream of,” Wilson said.
“We’re all young kids with stars in the eyes at some stage.
“It’s not just an event for fans in the city. I know a fair few from Gunnedah drove to the big games in 2003 and I’m sure that was the same for people who loved their rugby in other country areas around Australia.
“There are such huge advantages to Australia bidding and pushing hard for the 2027 Rugby World Cup.
“I was four years old at a Rugby World Cup with mum and dad and my brothers. I still think that’s pretty cool.
“I’m guessing the beer lines were pretty long.”
At 22, Wilson is just at the start of his promising Test career. He’s been part of two thrilling wins at Suncorp Stadium over the All Blacks (2020) and France (2021) to know how much he wants to savour as many highs as possible.
Playing a prominent role at the Rugby World Cup 2023 in France comes first but, potentially, he could be in the sweet spot of his career, at 28, when 2027 rolls around.
Proud dad Cameron would pack the car again for another rugby road trip if that came to pass.
The game is in his blood. He played when rugby in country NSW was at its peak, when the likes of classy 1970s Wallaby centre Billy McKid would play for Barraba.
McKid could step, change his pace and dummy through half the Gunnedah side at his best, which wasn’t the best viewing for Wilson as a fullback.
Wilson senior is a former Gunnedah Rugby Club President and juniors coach. Mandy spent time as treasurer.
“You have so many country people who love the game and are heavily involved as I was back then with the Gunnedah Red Devils,” Cameron said.
“Winning the hosting rights for the 2027 Rugby World Cup is what rugby needs. It’s the rejuvenation that the game needs. The game will always have the diehards but 2027 would be that great opportunity to make rugby trendy again on that broad scale with a new generation of supporters.”
Cameron had a chuckle when recalling young Harry’s first Wallabies’ Test outing in 2003 when meeting the life-sized Wally mascot was a highlight.
“To fit everyone, the trundle beds were set up from one side to the other of our motel room at Ryde,” Cameron added.
“We were sitting at the top of the nose-bleed section at the Olympic Stadium. Harry slept for part of the game but it was one of those great family trips you still talk about years later.”
Rugby World Cup 2027 will be a memory-maker for all rugby fans, old and new, if the zealous work to win the bid pays off. The first Rugby World Cup staged in Australia (and New Zealand) in 1987 only featured games in Sydney and Brisbane.
One of the winning features of the 2003 edition was the expanded reach of the World Cup across the country to 11 venues in six states and the ACT.
In the 2027 bid plan, there will be capacity for more than 50 training hubs around the country for visiting nations at quality sites.
The state-of-the-art 60,000-seat Perth Stadium and new stadiums in Sydney and Townsville are just the most obvious infrastructure upgrades available in bid planning.
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“Apart from Australia’s ability to host big events, one thing ready made are our great stadiums,” 2011 World Cup captain James Horwill added.
“It’s not just the new stadium in Perth, Bankwest Stadium in western Sydney or the rebuild at the Sydney Football Stadium.
“It’s what’s been done with the bigger stadiums now in Townsville and Newcastle outside the major hubs.
“The opportunity to host a Rugby World Cup is amazing in terms of what it could do for rugby across the country, not only at the professional level but at grassroots level.
“There’s talk of the potential for more than 30,000 new participants to rugby with the legacy of the World Cup.
“When you are competing with so many other sports in Australia, it’s obvious how much this means for the game.”
The call on the 2027 host nation will be made early next year.