Australian Rugby Union today announced Brisbane will host the opening match of the Castrol Edge three-Test series against Wales in 2012.
The Qantas Wallabies will return to traditional June Tests next year, starting with a one-off clash against Scotland and followed by three successive Saturday showdowns with Wales - the nation they toppled last month in the Rugby World Cup Bronze Final.
On Saturday 9 June the Wallabies will step out against the Welsh at Suncorp Stadium for the first time since securing the Castrol Edge Tri Nations Trophy at the same venue last August with a win over the All Blacks.
The match will kick off the Castrol Edge Welsh Tour and be the first time since 2001 - when the British and Irish Lions toured Australia - that the Wallabies will play a European heavyweight in a three-Test series across the June window.
The following Saturday 16 June the Qantas Wallabies and Wales will battle it out at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium and on Saturday 23 June Test Rugby will return to the Sydney Football Stadium for the final match of the tour.
ARU Managing Director and CEO, John O’Neill A.O, said the return to the traditional June Tests was great news for Rugby fans.
“A return to a three-Test series as we will play against Wales is an opportunity to build anticipation, excitement and momentum during the course of the tour," Mr O'Neill said.
"It is a long time since we have had that opportunity, to experience a heavyweight northern hemisphere opponent in our backyard for three Tests.
"I'm delighted too that Wales will be that opponent in 2012. I think all Australians understand what the Welsh are capable of in terms of exciting and attacking Rugby.
"They were unfortunate to lose to France in the Rugby World Cup semi-final, after playing with 14 men for most of the game, and they were certainly difficult opponents for the Wallabies in the Bronze Final.
“I'm sure Queenslanders will also appreciate having the first of the three Tests against Wales played at Suncorp Stadium. Over the past 12 months the Brisbane fortress has been home to some great performances by the Qantas Wallabies and the Queensland Reds.
“Both the Wallabies and the Reds have played in front of a full house there and I have no doubt Queenslanders will come out again in their tens of thousands, wearing their Gold and supporting their nation.
Welsh Rugby Union Group Chief Executive, Roger Lewis said they are very much looking forward to Wales’ Summer Tour in 2012 when they head to Australia to play one of the finest and most exciting rugby playing nations.
“Wales and Australia were two of the best teams in the 2011 Rugby World Cup and it will be a mouth-watering opportunity for fans to see the two sides lock horns again,” Mr Lewis said.
“The Welsh fans proved that they are fantastic travelling support when they turned up in New Zealand creating a sea of red at all Wales’ fixtures and we are hope that the loyal expats will do Wales proud again when they have the opportunity to support the Welsh Team next summer. “It is an ideal opportunity for Wales to be tested against one of the best teams around and challenge on a world stage.
“It will also be a fantastic experience for any Welsh players who are seeking to travel back to Australia with the British and Irish Lions the following year.”
Premier Anna Bligh welcomed the announcement and said the match would kick-off another huge year for Rugby in Queensland.
“The Test against Wales will be the first of a number of great Rugby events in Queensland in 2012, further cementing the State as Australia’s true Rugby heartland,” said Ms Bligh.
“Queenslanders really know how to get behind sporting events with huge crowds of Rugby fans coming out to support the Reds as they secured their first Super Rugby title and the Qantas Wallabies as they claimed the Castrol Edge Tri Nations Title.
“In addition to local fans, this match will draw visitors from interstate and overseas – which is great for the tourism industry, local jobs and businesses.
“Queenslanders love their Rugby and the Test against Wales in June is just part of a 10 year agreement between Events Queensland, Stadiums Queensland and AEG Ogden, which will see more international matches hosted right here in Queensland.”
Following the Test in Brisbane the Wallabies then head to Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium on Saturday 16 June for the second game of the Castrol Edge Welsh Tour before completing three Test tour on Saturday 23 June at the Sydney Football Stadium, which will be the first Test played at the ground since 1998.
Kick-off times and ticket on sale dates for all four June Tests will be announced in early 2012.