Eden Park to host back-to-back Bledisloe Cup matches

Auckland’s Eden Park will now stage two of the three matches during this month’s Bledisloe Cup rugby union competition between Australia and New Zealand, with Wellington’s Sky Stadium no longer a host venue.

Eden Park had already been scheduled to host the first match of the Bledisloe Cup this Saturday. Last week, Australia was given an economic exemption to enter New Zealand to face the All Blacks in the Test.

The second Test had been due to take place at Perth’s Optus Stadium on August 21 before Sky Stadium hosted the third and final match on August 28.

However, New Zealand Rugby has now announced Eden Park will host back-to-back Tests on August 7 and August 14, before Optus Stadium stages the third match on August 28, a week later than first scheduled.

Eden Park chief executive Nick Sautner said: “We have worked closely with all parties and are pleased to have found the best solution for staging the second Bledisloe Cup Test match in New Zealand amidst these changing and challenging circumstances.

“The All Blacks fortress, Eden Park has an unmatched history of staging world-class Test matches that create unforgettable sporting memories. Today’s announcement will be welcome news to rugby fans, our members and partners who have supported us through such unprecedented times.”

The revised schedule means New Zealand will now not be hosting the two Rugby Championship Tests against Argentina, which had been scheduled for Eden Park on September 11 and Sky Stadium on September 18. The matches will now be held in Australia, with details of the host venues to be announced by SANZAAR in due course.

New Zealand Rugby said it is still planning for two Tests against South Africa at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium on September 25 and Eden Park on October 2.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said: “While we are pleased to have some certainty around venues, we feel for our Wellington fans who will now miss out on two Tests.

“It’s exciting to be in a position where the All Blacks and Australia can now prepare for two Bledisloe Cup Tests in New Zealand and what promises to be two great weekends. When you consider what’s going on around the world we are grateful to be able to host some Test rugby and to be playing in front of what is going to be a bumper crowd at Eden Park this weekend.”

Sky Stadium said in a statement that Wellington had offered a number of different options to host the second Bledisloe Cup match, but New Zealand Rugby decided that the only date that worked was August 14.

The stadium has a long-held prior booking for the Beervana festival on August 13-14, with 16,000 patrons expected to attend. Sky Stadium said that the Beervana team had committed to working through the night to make the venue available to host the Test match on the Sunday if that opportunity presented itself but this was not the case.

Robinson added that Sky Stadium was not able to host a Bledisloe Cup Test due to the short notice following the closure of New Zealand’s travel bubble with Australia. He said that Sky Stadium would host an All Blacks Test in 2022.

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