ARU announces annual three-test Bledisloe Cup series

by staff

Australian Rugby Union has reached agreement with New Zealand Rugby Union to play the coveted Bledisloe Cup series over three Test matches on an annual basis for the next 10 years.

The deal, starting in 2012, provides an additional Test to the two-match Bledisloe Cup series that will sit within the new four-nation competition involving Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina from next season.

The arrangement with NZRU has also allowed ARU to broker another significant deal – an agreement with Events NSW to play a Bledisloe Cup Test in Sydney every year from 2012 to 2021.

To open the Bledisloe Cup series between the Qantas Wallabies and All Blacks each year, the Sydney Test will be played as a “same time same place” event at ANZ Stadium. However, the timing of these matches in a World Cup year is still to be determined.

Significantly, the second Bledisloe Cup match will be staged in New Zealand the week after the Sydney Test every year for the term of the deal, providing the opportunity for an annual Bledisloe Cup Festival either side of the Tasman.

The third Bledisloe Cup Test each year will alternate between Australia and New Zealand and be played at the conclusion of the four-nation tournament.

ARU Managing Director and CEO, John O’Neill A.O, said the new three-Test format for the Bledisloe Cup and the 10-year deal for Sydney were wonderful opportunities to further lift the profile and popularity of the series.

“Having three Bledisloe Cup Tests every year for the next 10 years has also allowed us to lock in a consistent ‘same time same place’ Sydney Test, which will assist in building even further on the profile of this great trans-Tasman contest,” Mr O’Neill said.

“The timing of the Test will allow Qantas Wallabies fans to mark the Sydney Bledisloe Cup weekend in their diaries each year.

“We have worked hard with our SANZAR partners South Africa and New Zealand on a Test schedule from 2012 when the Tri Nations will be expanded to include Argentina.

“While those dates have yet to be announced, we are guaranteed the same weekends for the first two Bledisloe Cup Tests in non-World Cup years.

“Just as importantly, the second Bledisloe Cup match will follow the week after the Sydney Test.

“This allows us to build an annual Festival that can be transported between the two countries, involving consumer and trade events.

“It will help us polish even further the lustrous profile of the Bledisloe Cup.”

Mr O’Neill said the decision to host a Bledisloe Cup Test in Sydney every year for the next decade followed negotiations between ARU and the NSW Government.

“The new 10-year deal is a significant vote of confidence in the game from the NSW State Government and Events NSW,” Mr O’Neill said.

“The Bledisloe Cup is our jewel in the crown domestically and arguably the most fiercely contested and high-profile silverware on offer in the game after the Rugby World Cup.

“We are delighted the NSW Government has acknowledged the importance of the Bledisloe Cup by ensuring Sydney plays host to a Test between the Qantas Wallabies and the All Blacks from 2012 to 2021.”

NSW Premier, Barry O’Farrell, said the 10-year deal from 2012 to 2021 with ARU delivers on the NSW Government’s commitment to secure more major events for Sydney and NSW.

“We are serious about major events and this deal proves that point, the Bledisloe is the jewel in the crown of international Rugby, behind the World Cup,” Mr O’Farrell said.

“For 80 years the Bledisloe Cup has been the symbol of trans-Tasman Rugby and the pinnacle of New Zealand-Australia sporting events.\

“Through this deal we are growing the Rugby heartland and strengthening economic ties across the Tasman.

“The certainty of these matches allows us to build a program of business events and conferences each year, targeting key sectors for economic growth such as financial services.”

“The deal cements a strong working relationship with ARU and we look forward to holding talks with them on other Rugby opportunities.”

Mr O’Neill said the deal with New Zealand Rugby Union for a guaranteed three Bledisloe Tests ensured other States would have the opportunity to host a Bledisloe Cup Test in the future.

New Zealand is currently No.1 on the International Rugby Board rankings, with Australia at No.2 – ensuring the two Bledisloe Cup Tests in 2011 will be the game’s ultimate heavyweight showdown.

The sole Bledisloe Cup Test in Australia this year as part of a truncated Tri Nations series will be played at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday, 27 August.

Tickets for the match will go on sale 19 July.

Tickets for the other two domestic Tests to be played before the Rugby World Cup – against Samoa at ANZ Stadium on 17 July and against South Africa at the same ground on 23 July – go on sale 31 May.