"Weird experience": Eight years after Cyclone Scotland, Wallabies to play another Test in Newcastle

The Rugby Championship
by RUGBY.com.au staff

Eight years after Scotland downed the Wallabies there in cyclonic conditions, Newcastle will host Test rugby again when Australia does battle with Argentina in September.

It was announced on Friday that the Wallabies will play the Pumas at McDonald Jones Stadium on September 5, in what will be only the second rugby Test match ever in the Hunter region.

In 2012, the Robbie Deans-coached Wallabies infamously dropped a midweek Test match 9-6 against the Scots, in a game played in horrendous conditions, with driving rain and 120km/h wind gusts.

In front of 20,000 brave souls, Australia were captained by David Pocock, and current Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper made his Test debut that night.

In an interesting twist, now Rugby Australia director of rugby Scott Johnson was also involved but in his first game as assistant coach of Scotland.

"It was a weird experience but it was a great experience," Johnson said at the announcement in Newcastle on Friday.

"It was my first test with the Scottish boys so it was great for that but you still have an alliance with your own country don’t you. It was sort of mixed emotions.

"It wasn’t (mixed) straight after the game, if I am honest, but it was an odd night, it was a good night.

"If we go back now to that game, we don’t want the same weather for this one."

The Rugby Championship fixture will be the fourth of the 2020 tournament for the Wallabies and the first TRC fixture played outside a capital city since the Wallabies hosted Argentina in Canberra in 2017.

Newcastle has become a go-to spot for administrators to stage top flight rugby, with the Wallaroos playing Japan there last year, and the Waratahs due to play their second Super Rugby game in as many years at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday night, against the Blues.

“Newcastle is a sports-mad city and the support for both men’s and women’s Rugby is almost second to none across the country,” Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle said in a release.

Though announced as rain lashed down again in Newcastle, Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes welcome the Wallabies back and said the weather would be better than 2012.

“Novocastrians are very educated sports fans and know that the open, attacking brand of rugby that both the Wallabies and Pumas play will make for an evening spectacle not to be missed at the start of Spring, when the weather should be much more conducive than the torrential June rain that hampered the Scottish Test back in 2012,” Councillor Nelmes said.

Johnson praised Newcastle as a fantastic and co-operative host for the Brumbies in January when they had to re-locate the club out of Canberra for a two-week training camp, due to smoke.

"It wasn’t easy but with a couple of phone calls, the support we got from the people here was immense," Johnson said.