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ARU wants Wallabies to play less Tests

By Adrian Warren 18/05/2010 04:58:42 PM Comments (0)

Australian Rugby Union boss John O'Neill has hailed a return to traditional tours as an enormous breakthrough, but says he ultimately wants the Wallabies to play fewer Tests.

The International Rugby Board Council have approved a new multi-year playing schedule starting in 2012.

The revamp is aimed at producing more attractive and meaningful Tests in the southern hemisphere during the June window, when the leading European nations visit the SANZAR countries.

In recent times, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have invariably hosted two or three nations for inbound Tests, but the matches have often been devalued because of vastly understrength visiting teams.

"It's been a two-year negotiation and it's a great outcome, particularly for Australia, New Zealand and South Africa," O'Neill told AAP on Tuesday.

"We've had real concerns about the June window and the lack of meaningful games. Returning to traditional tours where one country will come and play three Tests and two mid-week games is a vote of commonsense."

O'Neill revealed the schedule in coming years included a three-Test tour by Wales in 2012, a 2013 British and Irish Lions campaign spanning three Tests and seven other games and a 2014 visit by France.

Australia and New Zealand confirmed they would play a fourth Bledisloe Cup match this year on October 30 in Hong Kong.

It will be the third straight year a Bledisloe game has been played in Asia, but could be the last on that continent given the changes to the Wallabies fixture list from 2012.

Australia and New Zealand will play two matches against each other and against South Africa and Argentina in an expanded four-nations tournament.

O'Neill told AAP he would like to schedule a third Bledisloe game each year from 2012 but had yet to enter formal negotiations with his New Zealand counterpart Steve Tew.

"It makes sense," O'Neill said.

"You don't play two State of Origins, you play three ... we might do the same thing with South Africa as well."

However, both O'Neill and Tew suggested their nations would look to reduce the amount of Test rugby they were currently playing.

Australia played 14 Tests last year and are likely to play the same amount this season.

"I think once we get through this year and next year's World Cup, we will be planning on playing less Tests from 2012 onwards," Tew told NZPA.

O'Neill said while the number of annual Tests could be determined by financial circumstances, he was also looking for a reduction in the Wallabies commitments.

"I think we play too many Tests at the moment when you are up around 14 or 15," he said.

"I'd rather be back around 12 and that's our objective."

O'Neill said the new IRB schedule was unlikely to make any major changes to Australia's spring tour schedule.

"We are still locked in to play three Tests," he said.

"That's what we're mandated to but we are allowed to play extra by negotiation, so it's no different really to what we have got now."

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2024 AAP

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