Following the naming of Australia as the host location for Rugby World Cups 2027 and 2029, Rugby Australia Andy Marinos raised the prospect of the finals being watched by a historic six-figure crowd.
Three venues – Stadium Australia in Sydney, Optus Stadium in Perth and the MCG in Melbourne – tick all the boxes for size and capacity and the final will be played in one of them.
With 100,000 seats, the MCG is the largest of the three and would quickly assume the same iconic status in rugby that it enjoys in cricket if successful in staging the game’s showpiece event.
Here are five grounds that already enjoy such status in the men’s game …
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Eden Park, Auckland
The world-famous Eden Park celebrated 100 years of test rugby in 2021, a milestone that will be followed quickly by another with the ground set to host Rugby World Cup matches for the first time in the women’s competition, including the final.
Eden Park is one of only two grounds to date to stage two Rugby World Cup finals – in 1987 and 2011 – and has become synonymous with rugby’s big occasions.
Epic Tri-Nations/Rugby Championship matches have been played there and it has also been home to several British and Irish Lions tests.
Twickenham Stadium, London
Located in south-west London and close to the delightful charms of Richmond-upon-Thames, the home of English rugby is a must-visit venue for any discerning rugby fan.
Twickenham hosted the final of Rugby World Cup 1991 and 2015 and other selected games from those tournaments as well as at Rugby World Cup 1999. But its history as an international venue dates back to the first test played there between England and Wales in 1910.
The Principality Stadium, Cardiff
The jewel in the crown of Wales’ bid to host Rugby World Cup 1999 still resembled a building site a few months out from the start of the tournament. But the construction work was finishing in time – retractable roof and all – and it quickly gained a reputation for having one of the best atmospheres in rugby.
In addition to hosting the 1999 final, the Principality Stadium, then known as the Millennium Stadium, was home to one of the biggest shocks in Rugby World Cup history in 2007 when the All Blacks lost to France.
Rugby World Cup 2015 also stopped over in Cardiff, including the quarter-final dismantling of Ireland by Argentina.
Ellis Park, Johannesburg
The scene of the most emotional Rugby World Cup final in history as the Springboks defeated the All Blacks in extra-time to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for the first time in front of a home crowd united by sporting pride.
Two of the most iconic Rugby World Cup images were captured at the ground, immediately before and after the match.
With ninety seconds left on the countdown to kick-off, the 63,000 capacity crowd were stunned to see a 747 Jumbo jet fly past, not once but twice, just above their heads.
And then, once Joel Stransky’s drop goal had decided the outcome, we witnessed President Nelson Mandela handing over the Webb Ellis Cup to the winning captain, Francois Pienaar, in his Springbok number six jersey.
The Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium
Not the biggest Rugby World Cup venue by any stretch of the imagination, nor has it hoisted a final like the other stadiums previously mentioned. But for what it symbolises, the Kamaishi Recovery Stadium deserves its place on the list.
The stadium stands on the former grounds of an elementary and junior high school that was devoured by the tsunami that devastated the region in 2011 and houses 16,000 fans – roughly half the town’s population.
At Rugby World Cup 2019, the ground became famous for its history and as the venue for one of the biggest-ever Rugby World Cup shocks, Uruguay’s 30-27 win over the higher-ranked Fiji.