Australia bids for Rugby World Cups, launches women’s league

SYDNEY (AP) Rugby Australia announced plans to bid for the women’s and men’s World Cups on the same day it launched a national women’s competition.

Australia, which co-hosted the inaugural Rugby World Cup with New Zealand in 1987 and staged it alone in 2003, will bid to host the women’s World Cup in 2021 and the men’s edition in 2027.

The women’s global tournament was launched in 1991, but has never been held in the southern hemisphere.

”The women’s World Cup is growing from strength to strength off the back of an incredible tournament in Ireland this year and given Australia’s track record in hosting major events, we are supremely confident of delivering a tournament like no other in 2021,” RA chairman Cameron Clyne said in a statement Wednesday.

Women’s rugby has grown in Australia since the women’s sevens team won the Olympic gold medal at the 2014 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Australia’s first women’s national competition will include five teams, based in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane and Perth, and will be held next March and April.

Australia has won the men’s World Cup twice and was runner-up in 2003 and in the last edition in 2015, losing the final to New Zealand in England.

Japan is hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup and France was recently selected to host the 2023 tournament, edging Ireland and South Africa for the rights.