Wallabies announce grand slam tour - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallabies announce grand slam tour

17/06/2009 08:36:57 PM Comments (0)

The Wallabies will embark on a grand slam tour for the first time in 25 years after England cancelled a match against financially struggling Fiji to host the Australians at Twickenham on November 7.

England's Rugby Football Union announced the move on Wednesday in a bid to strengthen the financial position of rugby in Fiji.

The Wallabies simultaneously confirmed they will embark on an end-of-year grand slam tour of the UK and Ireland for the first time since 1984.

Australia will open the campaign against England at Twickenham on November 7 before playing Ireland at Croke Park in Dublin on November 15, Scotland at Murrayfield on November 21 and Wales in Cardiff on November 28.

It will be the first grand slam tour since the 1984 Wallabies, coached by Alan Jones and captained by Andrew Slack, became the first Australian side in history to beat England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland on an end-of-year tour.

A "significant portion" of the estimated seven million pound ($A14.34 million) surplus from the Wallabies game at Twickenham will be funnelled directly into Fijian rugby.

The deal allows Fiji to continue with their planned Tests against Ireland and Scotland and replace the game against England on November 28 with a Test in the United States.

Australia have also confirmed they will host Fiji on June 5 next year, a week before England begin a two-Test series.

The schedule change was approved by the International Rugby Board as part of a global package of measures designed to support Fijian rugby.

The team has lost the backing of its major sponsor, Flour Mills of Fiji, and recorded a financial loss last year of 770,000 Fiji dollars ($A461,750).

"Moving around our autumn schedule is not ideal but to be able to offer Fiji substantive support we needed to find a multi-union approach," RFU chief executive Francis Baron said.

"Playing a Test against Australia in replacement for the Fiji Test will allow us to generate additional revenue to provide meaningful financial support to the Fiji Rugby Union as part of the global package."

Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock has welcomed the grand slam announcement.

"The opportunity to go on a grand slam tour is massive," said Mortlock.

"It's been too long since Australia was last able to do one of these tours.

"I was only seven years old at the time of the last one."

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