Big Apple Bledisloe on the cards

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Bledisloe Cup could be heading across the Pacific while the new ANZ Stadium is under construction.

One match per year will be played in Sydney from 2022 to 2031 once the new stadium is complete but  in the intervening years the marquee game will effectively go on the open market. understands ARU representatives visited New York last year, meeting with the local tourism body and Met Life Stadium, with the view to staging international events at the stadium in years to come.

The concept would likely receive broad support from the Federal Government, with the potential for an event like the Bledisloe to help generate economic benefits for Australia across the board.

It wouldn’t be the first time the Bledisloe has been held outside of Australia, with matches played in Hong Kong in 2008 and 2010 and in Tokyo in 2009.

Met Life Stadium hosted Super Bowl XLVIII. Photo: Getty ImagesAmerica has shown it can pull a Rugby crowd, selling out Soldier Field for an All Blacks test in 2014 and bringing another healthy attendance for the Wallabies’ World Cup warm up against USA last year.

Metlife is considered one of the top stadiums in the world and hosted the Super Bowl in 2014, between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos.

Another offshore possibility could be China, already mooted as a possible World Cup host after World Rugby signed a 10-year deal with e-commerce giant Alilbaba to help grow the sport in Asia.

Who are the Bledisloe contenders?

1. Brisbane

Suncorp Stadium would be the obvious choice, especially in a year with just one Bledisloe in Australia. It has hosted numerous trans-Tasman clashes before and is one of Rugby’s traditional strongholds.

2.  Melbourne

The Victorian Government has already indicated it would bid for an NRL grand final in the intervening years of the ANZ construction and a Bledisloe could be on their radar as well. AAMI Park is too small to host a Bledisloe Cup so it would more likely go to the MCG, if anywhere in Victoria.

3. Adelaide

If the ARU wants to take the jewel in its crown to a different place, Adelaide could definitely be in contention. The newly rebuilt Adelaide Oval has become a stadium to visit for any sports fan. Close to the city and with a similar capacity to Suncorp, taking the Bledisloe to South Australia could be on the cards.

4. Perth

WA has hosted Rugby tests and will again feature in this year’s Rugby Championship but has generally been considered a more boutique venue. This could all change with the completion of the new Perth Stadium set to be ready by the end of 2017, with a capacity of 60,00 that could increase over time. There’s no doubt the WA government will be looking to play marquee events there and the Bledisloe could be one of those as well.

The Wallabies played in Chicago last year. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley5. New York

The Bledisloe Cup could go into uncharted territory during the ANZ construction and America could be the new frontier. Both the Wallabies and All Blacks have played in the USA in recent years to healthy crowds. While conflicting schedules with the NFL might need to be worked out, staging the marquee trans-Tasman clash between 2018 and 2021.

6. China

While rugby has grown in other areas of Asia, most notably Japan, China is a relatively untouched space for the 15-player game. World Rugby this week announced a 10-year partnership with Alisports, the sports marketing division of e-commerce company Alibaba opening up the potential to play big rugby events in country. Outside of a World Cup, a Bledisloe would be among the most coveted events to showcase the sport.