Rugby Australia chief executive Bill Pulver has urged Canberra to build a new stadium or risk “slipping behind” other cities in the race to be chosen as host destinations for Australia’s bid for the Rugby World Cup.
Rugby Australia last week signalled its intention to bid to host the 2027 World Cup, along with the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup.
Pulver, who will be replaced by Raelene Castle as Rugby Australia chief executive on January 15, has suggested a new roofed stadium in Canberra would improve the capital’s chances of being central to a bid.
The Canberra Times newspaper notes that the ACT government is keeping tabs on the situation in Sydney, where there are plans to demolish and rebuild two stadia – the Allianz Stadium and ANZ Stadium. Many people in Sydney have opposed the plans, which will set the New South Wales government back approximately Aus$2bn.
The future of Canberra Stadium (pictured), which has a capacity of 25,000, is also in the balance, and the Times reported that the ACT government is biding its time before committing to a new stadium.
Pulver told Fairfax Media: “Basically Canberra risks slipping behind everywhere else. State governments around Australia have put together investments that are making sure their stadia are world class, and I think NSW have done that in a wonderful way.
“The ACT has always been one of the key homes for rugby. But I just think they need to look at the prospect of an indoor stadium. All rectangular sports and their fans would benefit from that. The government needs to make a bold and inspired choice to build the stadium.”
He added: “Infrastructure investment lasts a long period of time and brings a lot of enjoyment to the community. In my view, it’s a noisy minority opposed to the stadia in Sydney.
“If you don’t have a good stadia environment to get people there, you’re just going to miss opportunities in your market. I applaud the state governments putting these investments in. It will give them a point of difference. Watching footy in Canberra in July and August is hard because it’s so cold. It could transform Canberra.”