Waratahs to break new ground in 2019

Super Rugby
by RUGBY.com.au staff

Waratahs prop Harry Johnson-Holmes might just get the band back together for the NSW's 2019 Super Rugby clash in Newcastle against the Sunwolves.

Johnson-Holmes was on hand in Newcastle as the Waratahs unveiled their latest 2019 venue, McDonald Jones Stadium.

Had he not risen up the rugby ranks, Newcastle product Johnson-Holmes could be pursuing a musical career and he joked they could have a reunion in their home town.

"I can make some phone calls, see if I can make something happen but we've got a pretty expensive calling out fee so we'll make sure it's in the budget," he said.

Johnson-Holmes has spent a few afternoons on the McDonald-Jones Stadium and ran on during half-time in a Newcastle Kinights game as a rugby league junior but this would be his first rugby game at the ground.

"I've played a half-time game when I was playing rugby league so it was a half-time game for Newcastle Knights but other than that, I've spent most of the time on the hill or in the stands," he said.


There's very few rugby union games on that field so it'll be pretty special to have that as my first rugby union game on the stadium."


While the Wallabies have taken training camps to Newcastle and the Hunter in recent years, this will be the first Super Rugby game in the region as the Waratahs spread their wings with the refurbishment of Allianz Stadium.

"I think there was a few times where the British and Irish Lions floated around on their last Australian tour so we saw a few of them and a few Wallabies up there," Johnson-Holmes said.

"I know it's been great for the community when the Wallabies go up there for their training weeks in the city at no. 2. In terms of the rugby community down there, they get a lot out of it, just having that wall broken down of being able to interact with their heroes, so I think it's going to be great.

"Johnson-Holmes said the chance to move around would re-energise the side.


"I think we're a state entity, the NSW Waratahs, so to be able to get out to the diverse groups that make up our supporters is a great opportunity, in light of the demolition of Allianz," he said.

"I think we're really excited, I think it'll bring a new type of energy to how we perceive our home games having that responsibility to bring good level of rugby to those regions that haven't seen Super rugby at their doorsteps so I'm pretty keen to get stuck into that for those regions.

NSW has already announced four of its home games for 2019, with three at the new Western Sydney Stadium and one at Manly's Brookvale Oval.

NSW Rugby and Waratahs CEO Andrew Hore had promised more games in regional areas through the Allianz Stadium redevelopment and this ticks that box.

The match could also provide a good test for a big rugby event - McDonald Jones Stadium is slated as the venue for the 2021 Women's Rugby World Cup should Australia win the rights to host when they are handed out next month.

There are still three matches left to be allocated and it would be expected at least one of those is played at the SCG but the rest could go to a range of venues.


Waratahs' 2019 home games 

Saturday February 16

Waratahs vs Hurricanes, 7:45pm, Brookvale Oval

Saturday March 9

Waratahs vs Reds, Saturday March 9, 7:45pm, TBC

Saturday March 23

Waratahs vs Crusaders, 7:45pm, TBC

Friday March 29

Waratahs vs Sunwolves, 7:45pm, Mcdonald Jones Stadium

Saturday April 20

Waratahs vs Rebels, 7:45pm, TBC

Saturday April 27

Waratahs vs Sharks, 7:45pm, Western Sydney Stadium

Saturday May 25

Waratahs vs Jaguares, 7:45pm, Western Sydney Stadium

Saturday June 8

Waratahs vs Brumbies, 7:45pm, Western Sydney Stadium