Australian rugby are again licking their wounds after New Zealand edged out a big money bid from their transtasman rivals to win the hosting rights for the 2021 Women's Rugby World Cup.
Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle was confident of claiming a rare victory over the Kiwis after securing $10m in government funding, but their hopes were dashed when New Zealand prevailed 25-17 in the voting by the 42-member Rugby World council.
Australia had the backing of northern hemisphere heavyweights England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, but New Zealand's bid got over the line thanks to the support of their other southern hemisphere comrades and nations that won't field a team in the World Cup.
The result continues a demoralising year for Australian rugby on and off the field and a frustrating run for Castle, who conceded the world champion Black Ferns' reign of supremacy had impacted on their chances.
"It's very disappointing, we really put our best foot forward and the support we've had from NSW and the federal government was truly outstanding," said Castle.
"We put a compelling case together and the presentation went well but unfortunately we didn't get the votes on the day.
"The feedback was that our presentation and pitch was outstanding and it was a neck and neck race.
"But there is no doubt the Black Ferns with their (on field) success influenced the outcome on the day."
New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew was gracious in victory, conceding the result could very well have favoured the Australians.
"It's not very often we compete with Australia and think it's unfair to win but today was a day that could've gone either way," said Tew.
"They had a very strong bid."
World Rugby chair Bill Beaumont believes the result reflected New Zealand's status as the 'home' of the 15-man game and hinted the passion behind their successful bid helped them out-point Australia.
"It almost felt like the tournament was coming home in being awarded to New Zealand," said Beaumont.
"If I was a Kiwi, I'd think it's sort of coming home now.
"Every member of the World Rugby Council would have got a fully documented appraisal of the two bids.
"Then it was just about fine tuning and just what little bits got you excited and that's what obviously New Zealanders did extremely well."
Castle confirmed RA remained commited to supporting women's rugby while their focus will now turn to winning the hosting rights for the men's tournament in 2027.
"It doesn't change anything in terms of developing our Wallaroos it just means we want to play on home soil and have to go across the Tasman to win the World Cup," she said.
"It's a great opportunity, it's in our time zone. It's a great opportunity for the players' families to come across to New Zealand to watch them.
"We have already said we're keen to host the men's World Cup in 2027 so all of our focus moves to that now."