Wallabies return to Sydney Football Stadium
August 30, 2011
John Eales and David Wilson parade the Bledisloe Cup on the last occasion Test rugby was played at the Sydney Footbal Stadium © Getty Images
Test match rugby is set to the Sydney Football Stadium next year after the Australian Rugby Union struck 10-year deal with the venue's owners.
The long-term agreement with the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust will kick off with the Wallabies playing host to Wales in June next year with the game forming a key part of the scheduled three-Test series.
Australia played the last of 22 Test matches at the venue in 1998 with Sydney's ANZ Stadium becoming their preferred home - a relationship cemented by the recent announcement of an agreement to play a Bledisloe Cup Test at that venue every year until at least 2021.
"There were some wonderful rugby moments at the SFS between 1989 and 1998 and we look forward to many more over the next decade," commented ARU chief John O'Neill. "The first Test played saw the Wallabies beat the British and Irish Lions in the opening game of a three match series.
"The most recent Wallabies Test played here in 1998 was also a victory, and was one of the most important occasions in Wallabies history. A victory over the All Blacks delivered the Wallabies their first clean sweep of a three-Test series against the All Blacks since 1929.
"Everyone who follows Rugby, and most people who follow sport in general, will also remember the night in 1994 when George Gregan made his famous tackle in the south-west corner of the ground as the Wallabies again downed the All Blacks to win the Bledisloe Cup."
The Sydney Cricket Ground was the Sydney home of the Wallabies until 1987 when Concord Oval was adopted for two seasons before the move to the SFS. Its Homebush-based rival, created for the 2000 Olympics, then took centre stage and while there were six Rugby World Cup matches played at the stadium in 2003, when Australia hosted the tournament, none involved the Wallabies.
There have been two Wallabies matches played at the SFS since 1998 - but neither carried Test match status. The New Zealand Maori went down to the Wallabies in 2001 and the Barbarians were also beaten in 2009.
"Now we can confirm that from next year the Wallabies will have two homes in Sydney," added O'Neill. "We are also hoping to celebrate the return of Test Rugby to the Moore Park precinct with a Fan Day and afternoon kick off to make it an occasion to savour. After all, Moore Park is where Australia made its debut on the international Rugby stage - with the national team playing against Great Britain at the SCG in 1899."
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