Wallabies and All Blacks strike Bledisloe deal
May 7, 2011
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw poses with the sizeable Bledisloe silverware last year © Getty Images
The Australian Rugby Union and New Zealand Rugby Union have struck an agreement to play the coveted Bledisloe Cup series over three Test matches on an annual basis for the next 10 years.
The deal, starting in 2012, provides an additional Test to the two-match Bledisloe Cup series that will sit within the new four-nation competition involving Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina from next season. The additional and possibly deciding match will be hosted alternately between the two countries with Australia the first beneficiary.
The arrangement with NZRU has also allowed ARU to broker another significant deal - an agreement with Events NSW to play a Bledisloe Cup Test in Sydney every year from 2012 to 2021. To open the Bledisloe Cup series each year, the Sydney Test will be played as a "same time same place" event at ANZ Stadium. However, the timing of these matches in a World Cup year is still to be determined.
Significantly, the second Bledisloe Cup match will be staged in New Zealand the week after the Sydney Test every year for the term of the deal, providing the opportunity for an annual Bledisloe Cup Festival either side of the Tasman.
ARU Managing Director and CEO, John O'Neill A.O, said the new three-Test format for the Bledisloe Cup and the 10-year deal for Sydney were wonderful opportunities to further lift the profile and popularity of the series. "Having three Bledisloe Cup Tests every year for the next 10 years has also allowed us to lock in a consistent 'same time same place' Sydney Test, which will assist in building even further on the profile of this great trans-Tasman contest," said O'Nell.
"The timing of the Test will allow Wallabies fans to mark the Sydney Bledisloe Cup weekend in their diaries each year. We have worked hard with our SANZAR partners South Africa and New Zealand on a Test schedule from 2012 when the Tri-Nations will be expanded to include Argentina.
"While those dates have yet to be announced, we are guaranteed the same weekends for the first two Bledisloe Cup Tests in non-World Cup years. "Just as importantly, the second Bledisloe Cup match will follow the week after the Sydney Test.
"This allows us to build an annual Festival that can be transported between the two countries, involving consumer and trade events. It will help us polish even further the lustrous profile of the Bledisloe Cup.
"The Bledisloe Cup is our jewel in the crown domestically and arguably the most fiercely contested and high-profile silverware on offer in the game after the Rugby World Cup. We are delighted the NSW Government has acknowledged the importance of the Bledisloe Cup by ensuring Sydney plays host to a Test between the Wallabies and the All Blacks from 2012 to 2021."
O'Neill said the deal with New Zealand Rugby Union for a guaranteed three Bledisloe Tests ensured other States would have the opportunity to host a Bledisloe Cup Test in the future. The sole Bledisloe Cup Test in Australia this year as part of a truncated Tri-Nations series will be played at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday, August 27.
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