Wallabies v Italy Test match at Etihad Stadium
The Qantas Wallabies will play Italy in Melbourne as part of the 2009 Bundaberg Rum Rugby Series, Australian Rugby Union has announced.
The ARU Board has approved a domestic inbound schedule that takes in two Tests against the Italians and one against France – with guarantees that both northern hemisphere countries will be at full-strength for their visits.
Etihad Stadium (currently known as Telstra Dome with a name change to take effect from March 1) will be the venue for the Qantas Wallabies clash with Italy on Saturday, 20 June.
The two sides last met in Melbourne in 2005.
“Melbourne is a perfect fit for the Test,” said John O’Neill, ARU Managing Director and CEO.
“There is a massive Italian community based in the city.
“We are also confident that Rugby can help deliver to Melbourne during that week an experience of true international flavour across not only one but two football codes.
“The Socceroos have a World Cup qualifier against Japan a few days earlier.
“So the opportunity is there for Melbourne to embrace the spotlight that is sure to be shone on the city from all parts of the country.
“There will be two iconic Australian national teams in town; along with the sporting and cultural diversity offered by the presence of Italian and Japanese sides.
“It promises to be an exciting mix, especially for the sporting fans of Melbourne.
“I have no doubt there will be a festive air surrounding the week and the build-up to the Test.”
The Melbourne match will be the second in a two-Test series against the Italians, now under the tutelage of former Springboks coach Nick Mallett.
Canberra Stadium will host the opening international between the Qantas Wallabies and Italy on Saturday, 13 June.
The Qantas Wallabies will travel to South Africa to play the Springboks in Cape Town on Saturday, 8 August.
Australia will play its final Tri Nations Test against the All Blacks in Auckland on Saturday, 19 September.
Mr O’Neill said a guarantee from the French that they will be heading to Australia with their full complement of drawcard players was also a breakthrough for Australian Rugby fans.
“There is no point trying to sugar coat the reality; northern hemisphere countries have not helped us in our domestic market by sending touring teams that have clearly been under-strength in recent seasons,” he said.
“That will not be the case in 2009. Italy will be bringing their best for the Tests in Melbourne and Canberra, and so too will the French.”
QANTAS WALLABIES 2009 DOMESTIC SEASON TEST PROGRAM
Saturday, 13 June v ITALY Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Saturday, 20 June v ITALY Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
Saturday, 27 June v FRANCE ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Saturday, 18 July v NEW ZEALAND Wellington
Saturday, 8 August v SOUTH AFRICA Cape Town
Saturday, 22 August v NEW ZEALAND ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Saturday, 29 August v SOUTH AFRICA Subiaco Oval, Perth
Saturday, 5 September v SOUTH AFRICA Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Saturday, 19 September v NEW ZEALAND Auckland