Australia has emerged as the front-runner to host the 2027 Rugby World Cup after it emerged that Argentina is set to end its bid to stage the event.
Argentina signalled its intention to bid for the event back in 2016. World Rugby vice-chairman Agustín Pichot, who captained Argentina as a player, has now revealed that the South American nation is set to step aside in a move that would leave Australia as the main contender, although the Russian Rugby Union has previously expressed an interest in hosting.
The Argentine Rugby Union is yet to make an official announcement on the matter. Pichot’s comments come days after he mounted a surprise late bid to become chairman of World Rugby.
Speaking to Australian newspaper the Daily Telegraph, Pichot said: “We discussed it with Australia and we thought it was not good for us to compete against our partner. So we decided to just let Australia run because they also had a stronger project.”
The Rugby World Cup has never been held in South America. Last year’s event was held in Japan, with the 2023 event scheduled to take place in France. Australia last hosted the event in 2003.
Pichot will stand for the World Rugby chairmanship against Bill Beaumont, who is seeking re-election for another four-year term. When Beaumont announced his intention to stand for re-election back in January, he named French Rugby Federation (FFR) president Bernard Laporte as his candidate for vice-chairman, and not Pichot, the current incumbent.
Rugby Australia, which seconded Pichot’s nomination, fears that it could lose around A$120m (€70.2m/$75.9m) this year due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and securing hosting rights for the Rugby World Cup would provide a timely economic boost. A decision on the host for the 2027 event is set to be made next year.