Monday, March 03, 2008

ABs v. Wobblies in HK date announced

The proposed All Blacks vs. Wallabies test match fixture for Hong Kong has been given the green light -- it'll be played November 1st; it won't be a meaningless exhibition match; and there may be more to come.

Bledisloe match for Hong Kong

Greg Growden
Sydney Morning Herald
March 4, 2008

FIRST Hong Kong. Next Japan - and even the United Arab Emirates. This year's historic Bledisloe Cup Test in Hong Kong in November is expected to be followed by Tri Nations internationals held in such exotic locations as Tokyo and Dubai.

After yesterday's announcement that the Wallabies and All Blacks will play a fourth Bledisloe Cup Test at Hong Kong Stadium on November 1, Australian Rugby Union chief executive John O'Neill predicted that major Wallabies internationals would soon be played throughout Asia.

Also, South African officials have told O'Neill they are eager to play a challenge match against Australia off-shore, with Dubai one of the favoured locations.

The lure of the lucrative Asian sporting and financial market has prompted O'Neill, who was in Hong Kong for yesterday's announcement, to travel to Japan this morning in a bid to attract interest in future Wallabies Tests. There will also be discussions on whether a Japanese team should be included in an expanded Super 14.

When asked if Hong Kong would be the start and end of off-shore Bledisloe Cup fixtures, O'Neill replied: "I wouldn't exclude Tokyo, and I'm going there to spend a couple of days with the Japanese Rugby Union.

"But it may not just be Bledisloe Cup matches. Talking to South African officials over the last couple of days, it is clear they are keen to play a Mandela Challenge match off-shore." [...]

It was originally assumed the Hong Kong Test would not be part of the Bledisloe Cup series, but O'Neill said yesterday they wanted the November match "to have integrity and not be regarded as an exhibition game".





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