Australians and Springboks to play for Mandela Cup
World Cup champions Australia will play South Africa at Melbourne's Colonial Stadium next year in a new annual contest which could be named after former president Nelson Mandela (pictured).
"The Springboks should prove an enormous draw-card at an exciting new venue," Australian Rugby Union managing director John O'Neill said of the July 8th contest, which will be played at night.
He said he had recommended to his South African counterpart that the clash be named after Mandela. If accepted, O'Neill will begin negotiations to bring him to Melbourne to launch the cup. "We're in discussions with the South Africans and if they agree to calling it the Nelson Mandela Cup we would like Mr Mandela here to see the first game played," he said.
Mandela was in raptures when the Springboks won the World Cup in 1995 at home and wore the jumper of captain Francois Pinnear when he presented the Cup to the South African team in front of a massive world-wide audience.
O'Neill said he would like the game, to be played outside the regular Tri-Nation series, to take on the same prestige as the Bledisloe Cup between Australia and New Zealand. "It's been in the pipeline for three years and now it's very close to fruition," O'Neill said.
Argentina are the only other tourists to Australia next year and O'Neill, when releasing the year's programme said they were the "real surprise packet of the World Cup." The Pumas, who reached the World Cup quarter-finals, will play four matches
on tour with two Tests.
Australian 2000 rugby programme
June 13: Queensland v Argentina (Brisbane)
June 17 Australia v Argentina (Brisbane)
June 20: New South Wales v Australia (Sydney)
June 24: Australia v Argentina (Canberra)
July 8: Australia v South Africa (Melbourne Colonial Stadium)
Tri Nations Series
July 15: Australia v New Zealand (Stadium Australia, Sydney)
July 22: New Zealand v South Africa (TBA)
July 29: Australia v South Africa (Stadium Australia, Sydney)
Aug 5: New Zealand v Australia (Wellington)
Aug 19: South Africa v New Zealand (TBA)
Aug 26: South Africa v Australia (TBA)