Wallabies legends Nick Farr-Jones and Tim Horan have applauded the revival of an “ANZAC XV” and urged organisers to make it “fourth Test” quality against the British and Irish Lions in 2025.
The team bears the name as the “Invitational AU & NZ XV” for now but respectful moves will progress to gain approval from the Minister of Veterans’ Affair to use the term “ANZAC XV.”
Reforming the “ANZAC XV” for the first time since the one-off against the 1989 Lions was an exciting element to a launch of even greater buzz in Brisbane on Wednesday.
Adelaide Oval will host the AU & NZ XV clash a week before the three Tests in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney in July-August, 2025.
Farr-Jones was delighted that Australian and Kiwi players will get to play together again but it came with a proviso.
“If they do it well, it’ll be great. If they do it less well like we did in ’89 it will just be an exercise,” said Farr-Jones, the Wallabies skipper against the 1989 Lions.
“We had an upcoming Bledisloe Cup in ’89 so the Kiwis weren’t that enthused (on the weekend off in a series against Argentina) and only three players turned up.
“What you want is a combination 50-50 of Aussies and Kiwis. We fought together at Gallipoli and on other battlefronts. It’s about the spirit of the ANZACs.
“Even if we are headbutting as unions, we should get together to provide the right quality of players to have a memorable game.”
New Rugby Australia Chief Executive Phil Waugh was a ballboy at the Sydney Football Stadium during the famous 1989 Lions series.
"There are certain regulations around the use of the term ANZAC," he said while flagging that an Invitational XV might even include South African and Argentinian players.
Horan was just 19 when a reserve throughout the 1989 series. He was also part of the excitement around the ANZAC game which the Lions won 19-15. Frano Botica, Steve McDowall and Kieran Crowley were the three Kiwis who turned out. “Buck” Shelford, Grant Fox, Sean Fitzpatrick and Co had declined.
“In 2025, it should be called the ANZAC match and it should also be played in New Zealand when the Lions tour there (in 2029). It’s very exciting,” Horan said.
“As long as it’s real with 10-12 reasonably current All Blacks, people will turn up and fill the stadium.
“You need real All Black players playing in it and that might be some playing off-shore.
“It’s the only chance you get to play with All Blacks players until you're 31 or 32 in Barbarians teams.
“One of the greatest memories I have of Ballymore is from that ANZAC game in 1989. The bus had to stop in Clyde Road outside the ground because there were too many people to get closer.
“We had to walk through this human tunnel by the creek bank for what seemed like hundreds of metres. You got tomato sauce and beer on your jacket. I remember (All Black) Frano Botica saying ‘how good is this.”
“Adelaide Oval will be big. It should be the unofficial fourth Test.
The more dynamic nature of players signing with overseas clubs will work strongly in favour of the 2025 “ANZAC XV” game.
The likes of Richie Mo’unga, Brodie Retallick, Shannon Frizell, Beauden Barrett and Aaron Smith will still be with clubs in Japan at that time. A mid-July clash in Adelaide would fit perfectly after the end of the Japanese season.