TOP CLASS RUGBY RETURNING TO SUNCORP IN 2008

Sport Minister Judy Spence has welcomed the return of top class Rugby Union to Suncorp Stadium in 2008 saying this will have major economic benefits for Queensland.

Ms Spence said the Wallabies will take on the might of the French on July 5 and then battle the All Blacks for the Bledisloe Cup on September 13.

"The French and the All Blacks are two of Rugby's powerhouse teams so it is only appropriate that the ARU schedule these matches at Australia's best rectangular stadium."

"Rugby's popularity will continue to grow on the back of the Rugby World Cup currently being held in France and I am sure big crowds will attend both matches.

"I agree with the players, members of the public and media who recognise Suncorp Stadium as one of the best venues in the world for watching elite sport."

Ms Spence said events at Suncorp also contribute to the Queensland economy with last year's Bledisloe Cup clash having a direct economic benefit to the state of around $17 million.

"Fans come for the game, stay for a holiday and the whole State benefits, this means jobs and a business bonanza in accommodation, business services, transport, retail and trade sectors."

"That's not to mention the fact that millions more will see everything Queensland has to offer via the international broadcasting of these matches."

Ms Spence said hosting elite sporting events also encourages children to participate in sport.

"The on field performance of the Wallabies will be emulated on school ovals and in backyards all around Queensland by future Wallabies," she said.

"It is vital that we keep pushing the message that being active is crucial to maintaining your health and event such as Test matches and Bledisloe Cup fixtures help to get this message across to Queenslanders."

Ms Spence said this announcement is part of the deal signed with the ARU last year to ensure top class rugby continues to come to Queensland. As part of this deal two more Bledisloe Cup Tests have been scheduled for Suncorp Stadium in 2011 and 2014, pending the extension of the SANZAR joint venture beyond 2010.

Media Contact: Troy Davies 3239 6218, 0439 673 287