Rugby Championship Test locked in for Canberra

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 07:55
Large wallabies v pumas 800

NEWS: Test rugby will return to Canberra for the first time in seven years when the Wallabies host Argentina at GIO Stadium in September this year.

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and ACT Government made the announcement on Monday at the venue for the September 16 clash, to be played as part of the 2017 Rugby Championship.

The match will be the Wallabies' fifth overall Test match in Canberra and the first to be played in the nation's capital since 2010.

Brumbies head coach and current Wallabies assistant, Stephen Larkham was also on hand at the announcement alongside Brumbies and Argentinian Test scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli.

Larkham, who played in two of the Wallabies' four previous Tests in Canberra, said the September clash will generate huge local interest.

"Canberra people love their rugby and whenever the Wallabies have played here in the past it's been a big occasion," said Larkham.

"I played in the game when Argentina came here in 2000 and it was a close game, but the Pumas are a very different beast these days and were semifinalists at the last World Cup. Since they've been involved in the Rugby Championship with Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, they have ranked consistently in the top six or seven nations in the world.

"This is going to be a massive game for the Wallabies and hopefully, in future, Canberra gets plenty more opportunities to see the national team play here."

Cubelli said he was hoping to return from the knee injury he suffered in the team's pre-season trial match against the Waratahs in time to suit up for a Test match at his "home" ground.

"This Test would be like a home game for me personally now that I play my rugby here in Canberra and I'd love to have the opportunity to play for my country at this stadium," said Cubelli.

"I'm putting all of my energy into my rehab and hoping that I can get back on the field before the international season comes around. It would be a very special occasion to be involved in this Test."

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said that it was exciting to have the Wallabies return to the nation's capital.

"It's been a few years since Canberrans have been able to watch the Wallabies in the capital, and I'm confident that ACT Rugby fans will be keen to get along and support the national side."

The Wallabies have won each of their four previous Test matches in Canberra dating back to 1998. Australia romped home in a 74-0 whitewash of Tonga in the first Test played at Canberra Stadium in June that year. Two years later, Stephen Larkham inspired a 32-25 Wallabies victory over Argentina.

Test rugby then returned to Canberra in 2009, when a James O'Connor hat-trick punctuated a 31-8 Wallabies victory over Italy. The following year, a virtuoso display from young gun Kurtley Beale helped the Wallabies to a 49-3 win over Fiji.

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