SUNCORP STADIUM TO HOST 2006 BLEDISLOE CUP AND SPRINGBOK TESTS

Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium will host a Bledisloe Cup Test next year as well as a Tri Nations Test against South Africa, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) announced today.

The move will give Rugby fans in Queensland the first opportunity to see the Qantas Wallabies play a Bledisloe Cup Test in their home State since 1996.

The ARU and QRU finalised a one-year deal for the two tests to be played at Suncorp Stadium, saying the decision was in the best interests of Australian rugby fans.

"This year is the last of a seven-year deal with Telstra Stadium to play the Bledisloe Cup at Homebush, so it is definitely time to give Rugby fans in other parts of Australia the chance to see the biggest match on the Australian Rugby calendar," ARU Managing Director and CEO Gary Flowers said.

"Brisbane last hosted the Bledisloe Cup in 1996, the year Rugby first turned professional. The Wallaby team that day included David Campese who was playing in his 98th test and Ben Tune who was playing just his fifth test.

"In 1997 and 1998 the ARU took the Bledisloe Cup to the MCG in Melbourne, before entering into a seven-year deal with Telstra Stadium, so it is now Brisbane's turn to host one of Australia's biggest sporting events.

"We won't be able to fit as many people into Suncorp Stadium as we can in Telstra Stadium, but the size of the crowd is not the only consideration when making these decisions. We also need to consider the fans who support rugby year in, year out.

"There are several parties that have helped secure these test matches for Brisbane who should be congratulated for their efforts, namely Suncorp, Brisbane City Council, Tourism Queensland, the Major Sports Facilities Authority and Bundaberg Rum.

"Sydney will continue to host tests against the world's leading rugby nations. The Bundaberg Rum Rugby Series includes the expanded Tri Nations from next year, so we intend on implementing the strongest possible match programme in Sydney over the next five years including regular Bledisloe Cup clashes."

QRU Chief Executive, Theo Psaros, said he was delighted to see Brisbane hosting two Tri Nations Tests next year.