Wallabies to face Great Britain's rugby league team
December 8, 2013
Israel Folau will be familiar with both codes when the Wallabies face Great Britain © Getty Images
The Wallabies have agreed to play the Great Britain rugby league team in a £5.5 million (Aus$10 million) hybrid-game at Wembley Stadium next year.
As reported by Rugby Gold, the venue has been booked for December 6, a week after the final game of the Wallabies' 2014 spring tour. The game will pit the likes of Israel Folau and Quade Cooper against the Burgess brothers, Gareth Widdop and Sam Tomkins in front of an anticipated full house of more than 90,000 fans. All up, organisers are expecting to raise up to £10 million through ticket and corporate sales, TV, sponsorship and merchandising.
An agreement was reached between the two codes at a secret meeting in London in November. The codes will be paid £2.5 million each and the players will earn around £30,000 each for a one-off appearance.
English Rugby League boss and World Cup tournament director Nigel Wood secretly met with Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver last month. They both agreed to the game, subject to commercial terms, which will be finalised in the coming weeks.
Wood was desperate for the opportunity to promote rugby league in London on the back of the recent World Cup, particularly as the London Broncos are struggling to stay afloat in the Super League because of lack of interest.
A global media company is in the process of selling world-wide television rights and major sponsorships. A consortium of Australian businessmen and rugby legends Bob Dwyer and Mark Ella were reportedly involved in the talks in London that secured the historic agreement.
One half will be played with 15 players with rugby union rules and the other half with 13 players under league rules.
The plan was to originally stage a Wallabies v Kangaroos game at ANZ Stadium in December. NRL chief executive Dave Smith met with Pulver and the promoters, however after showing initial interest, the concept was knocked back.
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