Wallabies to open 2011 Cup against Italy - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallabies to open 2011 Cup against Italy

By Darren Walton 12/03/2009 06:03:57 PM Comments (0)

The Wallabies will open their 2011 Rugby World Cup campaign against Italy in Christchurch, the home town of their New Zealand-born coach Robbie Deans.

The full schedule for the six-week tournament was released on Thursday, with Deans' eagerly-awaited homecoming set down for September 11, two days after the All Blacks kick off the seventh World Cup against Tonga at Auckland's Eden Park.

Australia's second pool C encounter is against Ireland on September 17 in Auckland.

The Wallabies then face qualifying teams from the Americas in Wellington on September 23 and Europe at Christchurch's AMI Stadium on October 1.

The two matches in Christchurch, where Deans is revered - not only for guiding the Crusaders to five Super rugby titles but also for his successful playing career with Canterbury - is further good news for the Wallabies after they were handed a dream Cup draw last December.

If results go according to seedings during the pool stages of the tournament, the third-ranked Wallabies cannot strike the defending champion Springboks or the top-ranked All Blacks until the final.

Despite his popularity in Christchurch - where his family were among the first settlers - Deans said the Wallabies shouldn't assume they'd be welcomed as crowd favourites.

"There's a lot of water to go under the bridge between now and then. We could be arch-enemies by then," he said.

"But one thing is, we won't be playing the All Blacks there.

"And one of the great things about the World Cup is establishing connections in the community and, if we can do that, then we might get some good support."

Rugby New Zealand 2011 chief executive Martin Snedden unveiled the dates and venue allocations for the 20-team tournament on Thursday, with most interest focusing on the opening match and the spread of venues to be used for 40 pool games.

It was widely anticipated that New Zealand would play France in the tournament opener but match officials instead plumped for Tonga in a Friday-night encounter.

In all, 13 venues will be used.

Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch have been allocated five pool matches each while Albany, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Rotorua and Dunedin will all host three games.

Whangarei, Nelson, Palmerston North, Napier and Invercargill will host two matches.

Tauranga, Queenstown and Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium were unsuccessful in securing pool fixtures.

Wellington and Christchurch will host two quarter-finals on October 8-9, while Eden Park is the venue for the semi-finals on October 15-16, the third-fourth playoff on October 21 and the October 23 final.

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