Rugby World Cup
Australia pull out of race to host 2015 RWC
May 6, 2009
John O'Neill says that the financial crisis has led to the ARU withdrawing from the RWC 2015 bid process © Getty Images
Australian Rugby Union boss John O'Neill fears only countries boasting formidable economic muscle will host future World Cups after Australia was priced out of the bid to stage either the 2015 or 2019 tournaments.
The ARU today officially withdrew from the tender process to host the 2015 or 2019 World Cup due to the International Rugby Board's asking price.
The IRB is demanding a guarantee of £80million (AU$163million) for 2015 and £96million (AU$195million) for 2019, while asking the host union to foot the bill for all associated costs.
The news comes a day after the Rugby Football Union confirmed they would submit a bid for the 2015 World Cup.
The host nations for both tournaments will be decided in July, with Italy, South Africa and Japan the other nations left in the race.
O'Neill revealed the ARU had targeted 2019 hosting duties but without government support - and with the world in financial meltdown - simply could not afford the risk so far out from the tournament.
He now believes the IRB's tender model will leave traditional rugby countries out in the cold when it comes to bidding for future World Cups.
"That's a conclusion that you could easily reach - that the economic model that is on the table could only possibly be achieved by very large economies," O'Neill said.
"The IRB's got this view that the value of the tournament to the economy in which it's held is so massively valuable that governments should just foot the guarantee - yet the host union could go broke.
"That's the dichotomy that I've struggled with.
"The Government is not going to use taxpayers' funds to basically hand the IRB a cheque. "It doesn't work that way."
After the ARU hosted a successful World Cup in 2003, O'Neill admitted the move to pull out of the 2015 and 2019 race didn't sit easily. "The decision wasn't one we reached without a lot of analysis and deep thinking," he said. "It's with a lot of regret that we decided that it's impossible for us to bid.
"The terms and conditions attached to the tender were ones we found we were incapable of meeting.
"It's a sensible decision but one that we've taken with a heavy heart."
Asked to elaborate on the reasons behind the ARU's withdrawal, O'Neill said simply: "We can't make those numbers work.
"Our directors looked at the numbers and said 'we can't do this'."
"Ten years is too far away. The onset of a massive, world-wide recession makes the notion of a 10-year time frame (too risky).
"It's a very brave person in this environment that can make decisions and predictions so far out."
O'Neill said he had no problem with the Australian Federal Government committing $46m to Football Federation Australia's bid for the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup, while knocking back the ARU's request for assistance.
"As a sport, rugby is very supportive of the FFA's bid. We wish then well and hope they bring home the bacon," said O'Neill, a former FFA CEO.
"Of all the big world event, the only one Australian hasn't hosted is the FIFA World Cup." O'Neill remains hopeful there will be a 'circuit-breaker' in the IRB's tendering process to allow Australia to re-enter the bidding race in the future.
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