Three-match Bledisloe Cup Series to be contested from 2012

getty     07 May 2011     getty

The additional and possibly deciding match will be hosted alternately between Australia and New Zealand, adding to the home and away matches the two teams will contest as part of the revamped Investec Tri Nations* tournament from 2012. The first additional Bledisloe Cup match will be hosted by the Australian Rugby Union in October 2012 at the conclusion of the expanded Investec Tri Nations. That coincides with the planned introduction of Argentina into SANZAR’s international competition.

New Zealand Rugby Union CEO Steve Tew said the additional Test match was part of the new All Blacks programme agreed by the NZRU Board for 2012 onwards which includes a three-match Steinlager Series (June), the new Investec Tri Nations competition featuring Argentina (August to October) and the Northern Hemisphere tour matches (November).

“While there is a huge year in front of us in 2011, there are some exciting prospects ahead next year for All Blacks fans.

“The three-match Steinlager Series against Ireland and the new Investec Tri Nations tournament with Argentina in the mix, will give a totally new look to our international season, and our expectation, supported by feedback from our fans, is that a three-match Bledisloe Cup Series will be keenly followed and fits well into our season.”

The NZRU and ARU have entered into commercial arrangements for this additional match which Mr Tew said includes a fair share of the total revenue generated.

He said the additional match has the support of the New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association.

“Over the past three years, we have worked with the IRB, SANZAR, other National Unions, our coaches and players and using fan research to agree a schedule that will be attractive and appealing for everyone involved in the game.

“We think the new schedule strikes the right balance in terms of a reduced number and better mix of games, the commercial opportunities necessary to help fund our sport; and for the team to have world-class competition.”

Mr Tew said fan research in both Australia and New Zealand supported the Bledisloe Cup being contested over a three-match series, rather than two as it was for many years prior to the expansion of the Tri Nations.

Mr Tew said the commercial opportunities generated by a third Bledisloe Cup match were also compelling and timely and he applauded the Australian Rugby Union for being prepared to fairly share the revenue from matches on both sides of the Tasman. This is a model the NZRU would like to see apply to all of its matches.

Australian Rugby Union ARU Managing Director and CEO, John O’Neill A.O. said the new three-Test format for the Bledisloe Cup over the next 10 years was a wonderful opportunity to further lift the profile and popularity of the series.

“It will help us polish even further the lustrous profile of the Bledisloe Cup which is our jewel in the crown domestically and arguably the most fiercely contested and high-profile silverware on offer in the game after the Rugby World Cup.”

Unlike previous additional matches, there are no plans to take the third match to offshore destinations. The ARU have committed to only play their home games in Australia. The NZRU will look to include the additional Bledisloe Cup matches that it hosts, the first being in 2013, in its domestic match allocation process.