ARU announces Test Rugby returns to SFS

by Staff Writer

Australian Rugby has signed a 10-year deal with the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust to return Test matches to the Sydney Football Stadium from 2012.

ARU Managing Director and CEO, John O’Neill AO, made the announcement at the SFS today alongside Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust Chairman, Mr Rodney Cavalier.

The first Test to be played at the SFS under the new agreement will be a showdown with Wales next June. It will be one of three Tests the Qantas Wallabies will play against the Welsh in a return to the traditional longer tours.

Mr O’Neill said it was likely the comeback Test at the SFS would also be played in the afternoon and be combined with a Fan Day.

The date and kick off time for the Test will be confirmed at a later time, when ARU announces its full schedule of matches for 2012.

“There were some wonderful Rugby moments at the SFS between 1989 and 1998 and we look forward to many more over the next decade,” Mr O’Neill said.

“The first Test played here 22 years ago saw the Wallabies beat the British and Irish Lions in the opening game of a three match series.

“The most recent Wallabies Test played here in 1998 was also a victory, and was one of the most important occasions in Wallabies history.

“A victory over the All Blacks delivered the Wallabies their first clean sweep of a three-Test series against the All Blacks since 1929.

“Everyone who follows Rugby, and most people who follow sport in general, will also remember the night in 1994 when George Gregan made his famous tackle in the south-west corner of the ground as the Wallabies again downed the All Blacks to win the Bledisloe Cup.”

ARU announced earlier this year a new 10-year arrangement with ANZ Stadium to play Bledisloe Cup Tests at Homebush each year.

“Now we can confirm that from next year the Wallabies will have two homes in Sydney,” said Mr O’Neill.

“We are also hoping to celebrate the return of Test Rugby to the Moore Park precinct with a Fan Day and afternoon kick off to make it an occasion to savour.

“After all, Moore Park is where Australia made its debut on the international Rugby stage – with the national team playing against Great Britain at the SCG in 1899.”

The SCG remained the Sydney home of the Wallabies until 1987 when Concord Oval was adopted for two seasons. In 1989 the Wallabies team moved to another new home – the Sydney Football Stadium.

Overall the Wallabies have played 22 Tests at the SFS, winning 17 and losing five.

There were six Rugby World Cup matches played at the SFS in 2003 when Australia hosted the tournament, but none of the matches involved the Wallabies.

There have also been two Wallabies matches played at the SFS since 1998 – but neither carried Test match status. The New Zealand Maori went down to the Wallabies in 2001 and the Barbarians were also beaten in 2009.

“Next year we will reignite the Test tradition that was forged here between 1989 and 1998,” Mr O’Neill said.

“We look forward to playing the Welsh – and to another successful period for the Wallabies at the SFS.”

SCG Trust Chairman, Rodney Cavalier, welcomed today’s announcement.

“The prospect of afternoon kick-off times will be warmly met by the fans, particularly families,” Mr Cavalier said.

“Afternoon kick-off times will be a welcome return to the great traditions and the foundations on which Test rugby in the Moore Park precinct was built for almost 100 years.”

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