Australia's chance of hosting the 2027 edition of the Rugby World Cup has received a huge boost after they were given the “preferred candidate” status by World Rugby for the global event.
Even though a formal announcement will be made in May next year, a 'preferred candidate' status will give Rugby Australia green light to go ahead with the preparations as they are set to host the showpiece event for the first time since 2003.
Australia were in contention to host the 2027 edition along with the United States, who now will hope for conducting the 2031 tournament with the World Rugby Council set to have exclusive dialogue with the USA Rugby about the prospect.
Meanwhile, England have been named the 'preferred candidate' for hosting the women's event in 2025.
"This is a huge step forward in our ambitions to host Rugby World Cup 2027 and for rebooting the game in Australia," Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan said.
"Throughout this process, we've held the genuine belief the time was right to bring the Rugby World Cup back to our shores.
"The team at Rugby Australia have worked hard on this for a number of years and today's announcement is great reward for those efforts."
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said the new approach lends a greater flexibility in deciding the hosts and is confident of working with the member boards to expand the game.
"The new approach to electing Rugby World Cup hosts is more flexible and collaborative, with World Rugby working with potential hosts to optimise... proposals and align them with long-term social and economic development plans for the benefit of their communities and the future expansion of the sport," he said.
The last time Australia hosted the World Cup in 2003, it was England, who defeated Eddie Jones' coached Wallabies 20-17 in the final to claim the title in Sydney.