2019 Perth Bledisloe sold out

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Perth's 2019 Bledisloe double header has officially sold out, more than nine months out from the August 19 matches.

Though there have been bigger crowds at the annual clashes in Sydney, by virtue of ANZ Stadium's larger capacity, this will be the first completely sold out Bledisloe match since 2006 in Brisbane.

There are approximately 2000 tickets left for Perth's first Bledisloe, to be held at the 60,000-seat Optus Stadium, after tickets went on sale to the public last Friday.

After a tumultuous past 18 months, with the axing of the Western Force from Super Rugby, there was a school of thought that fans could opt against turning out for the Test.

It appears, though, that those bridges are being mended with such a speedy uptake of tickets for the clash.

Rugby AU CEO Raelene Castle said the sell-out showed 

"I think it does (show sentiment is changing) but I think the important thing is that it shows that rugby is really strong and alive in WA," she said.

"The combination of rugby, with the Bledisloe Cup for the first time over there, and also the fact this it's a very mixed environment of New Zealanders, South Africans and also lots of Australian fans. It'll be a really live audience and it's really exciting."

This will be the first Test at Perth’s new Optus Stadium, which opened in January 2018 and holds 60,000 people.

Perth’s Bledisloe hosting duties come with the refurbishment of ANZ Stadium getting underway in 2019, expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

The past two WA Tests have been held at nib Stadium, with the Wallabies vs South Africa attracting 17,528 in 2017 and the Wallabies vs Pumas drawing in a crowd of 16,202.

Previous to that Australia’s Tests in Perth were generally played at Subiaco Oval, with a 2005 Test against the Springboks drawing 43,278 - the highest crowd for a Test in WA.

Next year’s Perth Test will be one of just two Wallabies home games ahead of the Rugby World Cup, with a Brisbane Test against the Pumas the only other international in Australia.

Brisbane is locked in to host the third Bledisloe in 2020, while Melbourne is reportedly set to host the other Australian home Bledisloe that year as ANZ's refurbishment conitnues.

Sydney has contractual rights to at one Bledisloe Test up until 2031, once the new stadiums are complete.

Castle said there had to be a balance between honouring the history of the Sydney Test and ensuring the Bledisloe was staged in other cities.

"I think the important mix is how do we maximise the great relationship we've had with NSW and the history of playing it here...but also thinking about the opportunity the Bledisloe presents to us, both from sharing a brand and the story of Rugby Australia and the Bledisloe Cup with the other parts of Australia."

Australia takes on New Zealand at Optus Stadium on August 10, 2019.