- RA is considering an afternoon the Bledisloe clash in Sydney
- Afternoon match would avoid clash with NRL finals
- Earlier Bleisloe Cup match would also attract more families
For the first time in nearly three decades Rugby Australia is considering scheduling the Bledisloe clash in Sydney as an afternoon match to avoid a clash with the NRL and finals and attract more families.
While daytime Bledisloe fixtures aren’t rare in New Zealand, there have only been two afternoon kickoffs in Australia during the professional era.
The Wallabies took on the All Blacks in the daylight at Lang Park in 1996, and 25 years later in 2021 did the same in Perth.
The last time a daytime Bledisloe match occurred in Sydney was in 1995.
Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh confirmed with The Sydney Morning Herald that RA is in talks with Stan Sport and Nine about the potential daytime kickoff on September 21 at Accor Stadium.
Rugby Australia is considering scheduling the Bledisloe clash in Sydney as an afternoon match
Afternoon Bledisloe Cup fixtures aren’t at all rare in New Zealand
The change to the schedule would stop a clash between the Bledisloe Cup and an NRL finals match on the same night – and allow Nine to broadcast both matches on its main channel.
Waugh said that the decision had not been settled about kickoff time, but an afternoon game would also encourage more families with children to attend.
‘The narrative I have been trying to push is the connection between the professional game and the community, and I think with the more family-friendly Test matches and professional games so that families and young kids can attend, and the more we open it up to more people, the better it is going to be,’ Waugh said.
‘It is certainly something we are exploring, and we are just working through with our partners to make sure it can work.
But there will be no club rugby and there will be schools rugby, so it will be a really good opportunity to get our rugby community in a family-friendly environment, at a massive Test match.’
Meanwhile, new Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt this week revealed that he plans to have a chat with former coach Eddie Jones before he officially starts his job with the Wallabies.
Schmidt, 58, steps into the new role on March 1, taking over from Jones after the humiliating World Cup campaign.
His first Test as coach will be against Wales in July – and before Schmidt gets going he feels it’s important to talk to previous Wallabies coaches Jones and Dave Rennie.
RA boss Phil Waugh said no decision has been made – but an afternoon match would be more family-friendly
The last time a daytime Bledisloe match occurred in Sydney was in 1995 (pictured)
‘You know when Peter Horne got given this job [with Rugby Australia], he’s a mate of mine, and he asked me if I’d put my name in there,’ Schmidt told The Sydney Morning Herald.
‘I’ll admit I took a bit of convincing but, you know, my wife, I think she gets sick of me at home or something, but she’s happy enough.
‘I’ve had a number of conversations with Dave Rennie, so that was great. Eddie messaged me, and I’m going to chat to Eddie, which will be good as well.
‘I’m coming across here and I’ve flipped the lens as best I can, from trying to exploit their weaknesses I can see having coached with the All Blacks for the last 18 months, but also trying to see what’s the best of who we can be.’