Australia have signalled interest in hosting their third Rugby World Cup, after formally lodging an expression of interest with the International Rugby Board.
The IRB had called for countries to indicate their interest in hosting the 2015 or 2019 tournaments with a final decision on both events to be made next July.
There has been much debate over whether the 2015 Cup should be held in a traditional rugby stronghold or used as a tool for expanding the game.
Australia last hosted the World Cup in 2003, when England claimed the title, and before that in 1987.
France hosted last year’s event, and New Zealand are the hosts in 2011.
The 2003 Rugby World Cup drew almost two million spectators to Australian venues with a cumulative television audience of 3.4 billion in 193 countries, but also cost A$120m to stage.
In a press statement released on Friday, the Australian Rugby Union said it was simply keeping its options open.
“A thorough assessment process would need to be undertaken before considering a full-scale bid,” the statement said.
“Lodging an expression of interest, however, keeps ARU ‘in the ball park’ while assessing what would clearly be a daunting financial challenge.”
The ARU suggested that hosting the 2019 World Cup could cost more than $300m.
A recent IRB report suggested the 2015 World Cup be held in a “prioritised territory” to help boost the game’s profile around the globe.
It is thought England and Wales are planning a joint bid for the 2015 event as well as South Africa, Scotland and Japan.
Italian rugby union bosses have also flagged interest in hosting either the 2015 or 2019 World Cup.Tweet