For the first time in the Bledisloe Cup’s 117-year history, the Wallabies will not host a match in Sydney despite having hosting rights to two of the three matches for the 2020 series.
Rugby Australia has announced on Monday that Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium will host the first of the three-match series on August 8 next year, finalising the Australian part of the schedule which will also see the third test played in Brisbane.
It will be the first time in a decade that a Bledisloe Cup fixture will be staged at the Victorian capital, with the last meeting between the two sides in Melbourne coming in 2010, when the All Blacks ran out 49-28 victors.
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RA’s decision to take the series outside of New South Wales comes as a result of both ANZ Stadium and Allianz Stadium being unavailable throughout next year due to the Sydney stadium network’s AU$2 billion redevelopment by the time the Bledisloe opener rolls around.
The move to take the match to Melbourne also plays into RA’s Visit Victoria partnership, which will culminate with the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia in 2025.
Additionally, the event will act as a trans-Tasman double-header, as the Black Ferns will take on the Wallaroos prior to the Bledisloe Cup clash in what will be the first Australian women’s test match to be held in Melbourne.
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“Our Wallaby and Wallaroo double-header events in Australia have been extremely popular with fans in Sydney in Perth and we are looking forward to staging the first ever double-header in front of packed Marvel Stadium in Melbourne,” RA chief executive Raelene Castle said.
“In 2019 we saw how much these events have captured the imagination of fans in both countries, with a sold-out sign at Optus Stadium in the west and again at Eden Park in Auckland a week later, and we expect there to be a lot of excitement in Melbourne to watch two fantastic test matches.”
Confirmation of the Melbourne test adds to the Wallabies’ growing international calendar for next year, which kick-off at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane in July when Ireland travel to Australia for a two-match series.
It will act as Dave Rennie’s first match as head coach of the Wallabies, before the two teams to battle again a week later at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The full Rugby Championship draw is yet to be confirmed, but two end-of-year tests have already been confirmed for the Wallabies, who are set to take on Ireland in a third test and England at Twickenham on November 28.
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