Hong Kong to host Bledisloe Cup match - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hong Kong to host Bledisloe Cup match

By Adrian Warren and Mark Geenty 03/03/2008 07:54:20 PM Comments (0)

Robbie Deans' task of reviving the Wallabies just got tougher with confirmation of an historic Bledisloe Cup Test against New Zealand in Hong Kong on November 1.

After much discussion, the New Zealand and Australian rugby unions agreed to extend the Bledisloe to four matches in 2008 to avoid an "exhibition match" feel in Hong Kong.

Deans, who shifts across the Tasman to take up his new post in June, will now need to conjure three wins over Graham Henry's All Blacks to regain the trophy.

"Robbie loves a challenge. The Deans factor, by then I hope, sees the Wallabies really cracking," ARU chief executive John O'Neill said.

"We wanted the game to have integrity and not just be seen as an exhibition game."

The other Bledisloe Cup tests are on July 26 in Sydney, August 2 in Auckland and September 13 in Brisbane.

A Hong Kong match was first mooted by the hosts midway through last year, and will be the first Bledisloe test at a neutral venue since competition for the cup started in 1931.

O'Neill said it was stage one of what is hoped to be regular forays into Asia by Australia and New Zealand in coming years.

He said the ARU was keen to engage Asia and grow its interests in the region and could play a Bledisloe match in Tokyo.

"Japan's sporting economy is one of the largest in the world and our slice of the cake could be quite lucrative," O'Neill said from Hong Kong.

He had also discussed the possibility of a Mandela Challenge match against South Africa in neutral territory in Dubai.

O'Neill said reports Australia would receive $7-$10 million for the game in Hong Kong were "crazy numbers" and inaccurate.

"If all goes well and it's a full house, it's going to be a nice profit for us but not excessive," he said.

The Hong Kong fixture means Australia will play 15 internationals this year and O'Neill said that would give new coach Robbie Deans the opportunity to get to know his players and coaching staff.

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