All Blacks cleared for Wallabies testinHK
Hong Kong is set to host the Bledisloe Cup again after the All Blacks' end-of-year international against England was brought forward a month, paving the way for New Zealand to play Australia on October 30.
The New Zealand Rugby Union said yesterday that Hong Kong was the most likely venue for the overseas leg of the Bledisloe Cup this year after confirming that the All Blacks would play England on November 6.
In Wellington, Steve Tew, NZRU's chief executive, said the date change gave the All Blacks and Australia the opportunity to look at playing another test in Asia on October 30, as both teams would be en route to Britain for end-of-season tours.
Although the Asian venue has not been confirmed, Tew said Hong Kong appeared to be the most likely destination given the success of the All Blacks previous visit to the city two years ago, when they met the Wallabies in front of a sell-out crowd at the Hong Kong Stadium.
Officials at Hong Kong Rugby Football Union confirmed plans were underway to bring back the Bledisloe Cup - the annual tussle for trans-Tasman supremacy - to So Kon Po. The encounter will be the fourth game in the Bledisloe Cup this year, the other three being part of the Tri-Nations, which also includes South Africa. New Zealand are the current holders of the trophy.
'We are very pleased to learn that the dates for the England versus the All Blacks game has been changed. This gives us the opportunity to bring the Bledisloe Cup back to Hong Kong,' Trevor Gregory, chairman of HKRFU, said. 'We had a wonderful experience in 2008 and are now looking forward to hosting another successful match.'
England had originally scheduled the All Blacks for the last game in its autumn schedule, following tests against Australia on November 13, Samoa (November 20) and South Africa (November 27). But after talks with the Premier Rugby Limited and the Professional Game Board, the English RFU decided to bring forward the New Zealand game.
'The only way we could have hosted the Bledisloe Cup was if England agreed to bring forward the New Zealand game from December to November. If they hadn't, New Zealand would have been left without a game on November 6,' Gregory said.
'They could still have played the French Barbarians, but that would have meant adding a game to their tour, and that wouldn't have been possible. So the only option was to get England to agree to the date change and we are thrilled to hear that they have done so.'
New Zealand will attempt its fourth 'grand slam' of rugby victories over England, in London, Scotland, in Edinburgh, Ireland, in Dublin, and Wales, in Cardiff, on successive weekends in November. New Zealand have attempted the grand slam on nine occasions and achieved it three times, in 1978, 2005 and 2008.
The HKRFU's intention since 2008 has been to stage a second international fixture, apart from the highly successful Hong Kong Sevens, annually in autumn. But last year it shelved plans to bring world champions South Africa for a one-off test against Ireland because of the troubled economic climate.
Two years ago, Hong Kong staged the first offshore Bledisloe Cup, which was won by New Zealand, who ground out a 19-14 victory. Last year's game was played in Tokyo.