Pichot's theatrical election move
SPOTLIGHT: Agustín Pichot has made his first, bold, move ahead of next month’s World Rugby elections.
Pichot, the former Argentina scrumhalf, who is challenging Bill Beaumont in the race for the Chairman’s seat at World Rugby’s top table on May 12, has thrown his weight behind Australia’s World Cup bid.
Beaumont has been nominated and proposed by the Fédération Française de Rugby and seconded by the Fiji Rugby Union.
Pichot was nominated and proposed by Unión Argentina de Rugby and seconded by Rugby Australia and Sudamérica Rugby.
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On Thursday Pichot announced that Argentina have pulled out of the race to host the 2027 World Cup and have instead thrown their support behind the only other tier-one nation currently believed to be competing for rugby’s showpiece tournament.
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The destinations for the 2027 and 2031 World Cup won’t be awarded until next year, but Argentina have made the decision to abandon their chances of bringing the competition to the Americas for the first time in favour of giving Australia a greater shot at winning hosting rights.
Rugby Australia’s financial situation is shaky, to say the least.
CEO Raelene Castle revealed earlier this month that the Australian union could shed AU$120 million of revenue if matches are cancelled for the remainder of the year which, coupled with RA’s AU$9.4 operating deficit for 2019 paints a bleak outline of the nation’s predicament.
World Rugby won’t bail out SANZAAR despite facing AU$790m financial deficit.
A World Cup’s worth of revenues would a be a huge boon for Rugby Australia – even if they’d have to wait almost eight years before the competition arrived on their doorstep.
The Unión Argentina de Rugby have decided that lodging a bid for the 2027 Cup would make little sense, given the bid of their SANZAAR brother.
“We discussed it with Australia and we thought it was not good for us to compete against our partner,” World Rugby vice-chairman Agustín Pichot revealed to The Daily Telegraph.
“So we decided to just let Australia run because they also had a stronger project.”
Australia last hosted the World Cup in 2003, when Jonny Wilkinson kicked a famous drop goal to help England snare the title from the hosts’ grasps in the Final.
That tournament generated AU$44 million of profit for the nation which would be a huge windfall for Australia on its own but if recent competitions are to go by, Australia could be set to make considerably more than that figure in 2027.
The 2015 competition hosted by England netted AU$4.7 billion revenue while Japan produced AU$6.4 billion last year.
Of course, for any such tournament to go ahead in Australia, RA will need to keep the game afloat in the meantime – which is easier said than done.
Pichot confirmed earlier this week that the SANZAAR nations would not receive any bailing out if things take a further turn for the worse this year due to coronavirus and Australia are quite possibly in the worst situation of any of the member nations.
Still, a World Cup would give fans in Australia something to similar about – and something to invigorate the game at the lower levels. With the Northern Hemisphere hosting the latest three scheduled tournaments (England 2015, Japan 2019, France 2023), there’s certainly a very good argument for taking the competition south.
“From a rugby point of view but also from a general population point of view, it’s projects like this which provide a bit of light at the end of a dark tunnel,” RA’s World Cup bid manager Anthony French said.
Sources: The Daily Telegraph & RugbyPass