Wallabies, Wallaroos to play July double-header at new Townsville stadium

International
by Emma Greenwood

UPDATE: Rugby Australia's director of rugby Scott Johnson says the sport has a great opportunity to "spread the gospel" when taking the Wallabies and Wallaroos to Townsville for the first time.

International rugby will return to Townsville for the first time since the 2003 Rugby World Cup when the Australian men and women play a double-header at the new Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville.

Townsville will play host to its first Wallabies Test when Australia take on Fiji on July 18, with the Wallaroos to play world no.3 Canada at the 25,000 seat stadium.

Johnson said the support of the North Queensland community had been vital in getting the match to Townsville and a strong turnout on July 18 could help push for more elite games in the city.


"The support of the community, the support of everyone wanting it here," Johnson said when asked how the game came to be played in the regional centre.

"It's a great stadium and it's also our wish to spread the gospel of our game, it's a great opportunity.

"With facilities like this, there's no reason why (we can't come back). I look around and see the support of the community, the love for the game and if you want us, we'll be here."

The  match will be one of the first played under new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie and Johnson expected an exciting clash after the teams' tussle at last year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.

"I think we'll play an attractive brand of rugby, we've got a younger team coming through, a generational change and these players have committed for three or four years now, so there'll be some stability within the group," he said.

"It'll be a challenging period but a good period and out of that we'll get some future champions, no doubt."

Fiji was the last team to play a Test in Townsville when they took on Japan in a Pool B clash at the World Cup in October 2003.

Rugby Australia ambassador David Campese backed taking Tests to regional areas - as the Wallabies will also do in September, when they take on Argentina in Newcastle.

"All you need is a couple of kids to come up and touch a Wallaby and tell their mates: 'I touched (Michael) Hooper', that kind of thing, it's got a massive impact," Campese said.

"You see it on TV and then all of a sudden you were there, you're watching and hopefully through Rugby Australia, leading into that Test match there's going to be a lot of activity around and the more these kids get to see these guys, the more they want to be like them and that's a massive part of the game."

In contrast, the Wallaroos played their first Test match on home soil just last year when they took on Japan in Newcastle in the first game of a two-match series, before going down to the Silver Ferns in the opening leg of the  Laurie O'Reilly Memorial Trophy in Perth.

Rugby Australia Chief Executive, Raelene Castle said the Wallabies and Wallaroos would "turn the city gold" ahead of the historic double-header.

“We were hugely impressed by Queensland Country Bank Stadium and the offering it will provide for fans, both from the North Queensland region and for those travelling from interstate and abroad," Castle said.

"It’s a world-class facility that the sports-loving people of North Queensland have been craving for many years and we look forward to being one of the first sports to experience the venue.

“Fiji have proven themselves to be well and truly on the rise, and I know Dave Rennie and the rest of the Wallabies coaches are preparing for another very tough contest."

The announcement completes the Wallabies' domestic Test schedule for 2020 with fixtures to be taken across the country, including Newcastle, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

“We’re also delighted that the Buildcorp Wallaroos will share the stage in Townsville and continue their growth ahead of their Rugby World Cup next year," Castle said.

"Head Coach Dwayne Nestor has done a great job of developing the team on the field but also connecting with the community off the field and we’ll be looking to continue that when we visit the region."

Queensland government officials expect the match to generate 13,000 visitor nights and $3 million for local business. Tickets will go on sale on April 22

SCHEDULE

Wallabies Fixtures for 2020

July Series

July 4 - Australia vs Ireland, Suncorp Stadium

July 11 - Australia vs Ireland, SCG

July 18 - Australia vs Fiji, Townsville

The Rugby Championship

August 8 - Australia vs New Zealand, Marvel Stadium, Melbourne

August 15 - New Zealand vs Australia, Westpac Stadium, Wellington

August 29 - Australia vs South Africa, Optus Stadium, Perth

September 5 - Australia vs Argentina, Newcastle

September 19 - South Africa vs Australia, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria

September 27 - Argentina vs Argentina, Jose Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aires

Bledisloe Cup

October 17 - Australia vs New Zealand, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Spring Tour

November 7 - Ireland vs Australia, Aviva Stadium, Dublin

November 14 - France vs Australia, Stade de France, Paris

November 21 - Italy vs Australia, venue TBC

November 28 - England vs Australia, Twickenham, London

Wallaroos fixtures for 2020 

More TBC

July 18 - Australia vs Canada, Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville

New Zealand Series 

August 8- Australia vs New Zealand, Marvel Stadium, Melbourne

August 15 - New Zealand vs Australia, Westpac Stadium, Wellington