Super Rugby franchise the New South Wales Waratahs will play three matches at the new Western Sydney Stadium next year, it has been announced.
The 30,000-seat stadium is currently being built on the site of the old Parramatta venue that was demolished in 2017.
It is due to open in April and its tenants has been the subject of much debate with NRL rugby league club the Parramatta Eels having earlier this week rejected a deal to play at the venue, claiming a proposal represented unacceptable commercial terms.
Developers have now been handed a boost as it was announced that the Waratahs will face off against South African team the Sharks, Argentinian outfit the Jaguares and rival Australian franchise the Brumbies at the new stadium next year.
NSW Rugby chief executive Andrew Hore views the stadium as an opportunity to showcase the sport to both the local area and the international market.
“Western Sydney is one of the fastest growing regions in NSW with a diverse population that has a strong passion for rugby,” Hore said. “We want to capitalise on this and by taking the NSW Waratahs to that region it will hopefully further encourage more youngsters to take up the sport.
“This also aligns with our broader Western Sydney strategy that has looked specifically at the needs of the area to grow the game and encourage participation and fan engagement.
“The fact that we will be one of the first sports to play at the newly developed, state-of-the-art Western Sydney Stadium is a real opportunity for our fans and rugby participants in Western Sydney. We want to continue to grow and develop the sport in that area and the fact that the NSW Waratahs will play three matches there next year will certainly help us towards that goal.”
Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres also welcomed the news. “No longer taken for granted, no longer second best, Western Sydney is now leading the way when it comes to sporting infrastructure and we welcome the NSW Waratahs to this fantastic new facility,” he said.
“By showcasing our talented NSW Waratahs in Western Sydney, we will show our younger players the pathway to the top, right in their backyard.”
The Waratahs’ usual home ground is Allianz Stadium, which is currently being rebuilt. The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported that the Waratahs will play three matches at the Sydney Cricket Ground next year while Allianz Stadium is rebuilt, with the team’s remaining two fixtures to be held at suburban Sydney grounds and a regional stadium.
The Eels’ recent decision to reject a deal to play at the Western Sydney Stadium came as a blow to developers, with the team having been expected to be one of the venue’s main tenants.
Image: Infrastructure NSW