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Australia ready for Asia road show

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As if there was not enough Test rugby already, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) are proposing a one-off Test against the All Blacks at the end of 2008 in Hong Kong to extend their reach into Asia.

The game will be billed as a Test match – but will not count towards either the Tri-Nations or the Bledisloe Cup.

With an official accord with Japan already, and China considered to be a sleeping giant of world rugby, the game offers a lucrative market for merchandising and branding.

The ARU also believe the presence of such a game in Hong Kong will spark more of an interest in China and boost the development of the game.

The game was originally scheduled to be played in China, but the ARU and NZRU opted to change the location to Hong Kong, due to the popularity of the sport their.

The Hong Kong Sevens is a testament to that fact.

“This has been explored for a couple of months,” the ARU’s Head of Public Affairs and Communications, Brian West, told The Australian.

“It’s on the cards. There are some hurdles to overcome, in terms of getting the schedule right.

“We are also working through the workload on the players and those sorts of issues.

“The IRB is keen to expand rugby in tier two nations and we (Australia and New Zealand) both want to expand in Asia, particularly China.

“Rugby is the game of choice of the People’s Liberation Army, which has about 100,000 players.

“China is close to home. We’ve investigated it and we are working through it.”

The match will be played at Hong Kong’s National Stadium either immediately before or after Australia’s tour of Europe in November next year.

The game’s timing will depend on whether New Zealand adds an extra game to their annual European tour.

The All Blacks are playing England, Ireland and Wales, but it is understood they are also looking at playing Scotland and another European team.

At the moment, the Wallabies are scheduled to play Ireland (Melbourne) and France (Sydney and Brisbane) next year before the Tri-Nations.

The Wallabies finish the year with Tests against England, France and Italy on their European tour.

 

365 Digital

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