SYDNEY (Reuters) - Perth’s new multi-purpose stadium will host the first Bledisloe Cup test between the world champion All Blacks and the Wallabies in 2019, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) said on Wednesday.
The 60,000-seat capacity stadium is due to open in early 2018 and has been designed to cater for cricket, soccer, rugby and Australian Rules football.
“We are very proud to be bringing Western Australia its first ever Bledisloe Cup test,” ARU Chief Executive Bill Pulver said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The 2019 Bledisloe Cup match will be one of the first major events played at the new Perth Stadium after its completion in 2018. It will also be a vital clash for both teams, being their one and only clash in the Rugby Championship that year, on the eve of the Rugby World Cup.”
Tests in the Western Australia capital have typically been played at the smaller Perth Oval, the home ground of Super Rugby’s Western Force.
With a large expatriate South African population in Perth, eight of the 15 tests in the city have involved matches against the Springboks.
The majority of Bledisloe Cup games in Australia in recent years have been held at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium.
That venue, however, is to undergo a A$700 million ($519.89 million) redevelopment that will turn it into a permanent rectangular venue with seating for 75,000 and will not be available between 2019-2022.
The decision to host the game in Perth is also a public showing of support by the ARU for rugby in Western Australia as the sport struggles to gain a foothold in the state.
The Force were taken over by the ARU earlier this year due to financial issues, while the team has struggled to build a fan base and attract players.
On-field performances have also fallen off, with the Force failing to make the playoffs once since coming into the league in 2006, and finishing 16th in an expanded 18-team competition this year.
($1 = 1.3464 Australian dollars)
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Peter Rutherford