Australian Rugby Union has reached agreement with the Queensland Government on a 10-year Test schedule that ensures major international matches will be showcased in the State for the next decade.
Headlining the deal is confirmation that Bledisloe Cup Tests will be staged in Brisbane every time Australia – on an annual rotation with New Zealand – hosts three games in the showpiece trans-Tasman series.
This year’s Bledisloe Cup Test was already locked in for Suncorp Stadium and, under the new arrangement, a Bledisloe Cup Test will also be hosted in Brisbane in 2012, giving Queensland the opportunity to stage matches between the Qantas Wallabies and All Blacks in successive seasons.
Other features of the agreement negotiated through Events Queensland include:
- South Africa to play in Brisbane as part of the expanded Tri Nations series in the years when the All Blacks are not playing in Brisbane;
- Brisbane to host the opening Test when European heavyweights tour each June – in 2012 the Castrol Edge Rugby Series will involve three Tests against Wales;
- Gold Coast to host a Test for the first time when the Castrol Edge Tri Nations match with Argentina is played at Skilled Stadium next year. Gold Coast will also host a further two Tests during the term of the agreement – in 2014 and 2018;
- One of the three Tests against the British and Irish Lions in 2013 to be played in Brisbane with the full itinerary for the tour expected to be confirmed later this month;
Australian Rugby Union Managing Director and CEO, John O’Neill AO, said the Queensland people had displayed through their support for the Reds over the past two seasons that the State’s love of the game was undeniable and vital to the future fortunes of the code.
“When you look at the Super Rugby final being sold out and the prospect that the Bledisloe Cup Test in Brisbane on August 27 will follow suit when tickets go on sale on July 19, the Queensland sporting public has stepped up to the plate to support our game,” Mr O’Neill said.
“While there were other factors that needed to be considered before entering this arrangement with Events Queensland, AEG Ogden and Stadiums Queensland, it was also clear that we need to reward and encourage our Queensland fan base to continue supporting the Qantas Wallabies.
“Queensland is an undeniable heartland of Rugby and to that extent we also think the time is right to take Test Rugby to the Gold Coast.
“We have relocated the Australian leg of the IRB Sevens World Series to the Gold Coast and believe Test Rugby will also thrive in that market.
“Gold Coast has a wonderful stadium and a sporting audience prepared to turn out for major events. We consider taking a Test in the expanded Tri Nations series to the Gold Coast next year to fit that criteria perfectly.
“Argentina were semi-finalists at the last Rugby World Cup and their entry into the expanded Tri Nations next year alongside Australia, New Zealand and South Africa is already highly anticipated.”
Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, welcomed today’s announcement ahead of tonight’s Super Rugby Final at Suncorp Stadium.
“This agreement, negotiated through Events Queensland, lays out the schedule of international matches that will be showcased over the next decade,” Ms Bligh said today.
“In addition to an army of local fans, these matches will draw visitors from interstate and internationally – that’s great for the tourism industry and the jobs it supports and reinforces Queensland’s status as Australia’s best sporting events destination.
“Queenslanders really know how to get behind sporting events and this will be no exception – seeing the Qantas Wallabies playing in Suncorp Stadium and Skilled Park is going to be fantastic for Rugby fans, whether they are local or visiting.”
ARU announced last month detail around the future Test match schedule for Sydney and confirmation of schedules for Melbourne and Perth are expected in coming weeks.