After falling one win short of a Rugby World Cup triumph, the Qantas Wallabies will return to the northern hemisphere next Spring for a history-making shot at the ‘Grand Slam’.
The Australian Rugby Union today announced a five-Test, seven-match Spring Tour for 2016, beginning on November 5.
Not since the Alan Jones-coached and Andrew Slack-captained 1984 Wallabies has an Australian side been successful in conquering the four home nations of Britain and Ireland on the same tour.
The Wallabies have attempted the Grand Slam on nine previous occasions, with the 1984 touring team the only to have achieved the feat. The most recent attempt came in 2013, where the Wallabies opened with a loss to England before defeating Italy, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The men in gold will begin their campaign at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff with a replay of their dramatic Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool A decider against Wales, before facing off with Scotland at Murrayfield where the hosts will be out to avenge their one-point Rugby World Cup Quarter-Final loss.
From there the Aussies head to Paris to take on France, before a clash with reigning Six Nations champions Ireland at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. The tour will conclude on December 3 with a blockbuster showdown against England at Twickenham, the scene of Australia’s 33-13 Rugby World Cup victory which ended England’s campaign.
During the month-long tour the Qantas Wallabies will also play two mid-week matches to be confirmed at a later date.
ARU CEO Bill Pulver said: “The Grand Slam is one of the rarest achievements in the game and has been a notoriously difficult one for the Wallabies over time with only one successful attempt out of nine.
“The 1984 team etched their names into Australian Rugby folklore and as the years have passed their achievement has become more legendary. It is a great opportunity for the 2016 Qantas Wallabies to create their own slice of history.
“The Grand Slam Tour will cap off a monumental year of Rugby in 2016, which all kicks off in February with the inaugural HSBC Sydney 7s and an expanded Asteron Life Super Rugby competition, before a blockbuster Test series against England, The Rugby Championship, and the debut of Rugby Sevens at the Olympic Games in Rio.”
The Grand Slam Tour will be the final act in one of Australian Rugby’s biggest years of international Rugby in recent history.
Following the launch of the 18-team Asteron Life Super Rugby season in February, the Qantas Wallabies will host England in an historic three-Test series in June before The Rugby Championship reverts to its standard home-and-away format featuring home matches against New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina.
The Wallabies and New Zealand will square off in a three-Test series for the Bledisloe Cup with a third match to be played at Eden Park in Auckland on October 22, after The Rugby Championship.
It is also set to be massive year in international Sevens competition, with the inaugural HSBC Sydney7s on the weekend of February 6-7 at Allianz Stadium, and the debut of Rugby Sevens at the Olympic Games in Rio in August.
QANTAS WALLABIES 2016 SPRING TOUR SCHEDULE
Sat 5 Nov Wales v Qantas Wallabies Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Sat 12 Nov Scotland v Qantas Wallabies Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Sat 19 Nov France v Qantas Wallabies Stade De France, Paris
Sat 26 Nov Ireland v Qantas Wallabies Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Sat 3 Dec England v Qantas Wallabies Twickenham Stadium, London
*Two additional mid-week tour matches to be confirmed