World Cup will give southern exposure
THE battle to host the women's Rugby World Cup in 2021 is between just Australia and New Zealand meaning it will be the first time the event his held in the southern hemisphere.
The two unions submitted their bids a month ago and will have to wait until November 15 to find out who the vote goes to, but no matter who wins it will be a boost to the international women's XVs schedule in the coming years.
It has been difficult to attract the stronger northern hemisphere nations for tours downunder because of travel distances, but preparation for the next World Cup could open discussions for Test matches on Australian soil.
"Certainly those top playing nations will want to play down in Australia, or New Zealand, but hopefully Australia, beforehand and we see opportunities around that," said Rugby Australia head of women's rugby Jilly Collins.
"Irrespective of that, we will be asking more nations to come down here to play and looking at what our overseas tours and schedules look like as well.
"There was always a bit of history as to why a women's World Cup hasn't been here in the past, it's too far away for the main hub market, but World Rugby recognise how important it is, outside that European market, to expand the horizons in the XVs game and make more teams internationally competitive."
The Wallaroos played the Black Ferns in two double headers with the Bledisloe Cup in August, the first Test being the first time they'd played in Australia since 2008.
That format, in which the played at ANZ Stadium and Eden Park, was an incredible success for raising the profile of women's rugby and plans are close to being finalised to make it a feature of the rugby calendar for the next few years.
"We're in the final stages of that conversation with New Zealand Rugby. All going well, yes, they'll be locked in for the next couple of years," Collins said.
"There's a bigger picture of the Bledisloe and those games and where they are, so it's pencilled in, but that's our aspiration."
Rugby Australia is also conscious of moving the women's game to be its own product and while the double headers delivered exposure, there are plans for other Tests to be stand-alone fixtures as well.
"Those two double headers as the showcase and leveraging off the noise, excitement and media attention around those and having some stand-alone games as well for the Wallaroos," Collins said.
"They'll play in albeit a smaller venue, but it's a venue that's packed out with a local crowd and it's exciting, they're the stars of the show and that's the business model we want to make."