Townsville will play host for its first ever Qantas Wallabies Test when Australia take on Fiji on July 18 at the new Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
International rugby was last played in North Queensland 17 years ago when Fiji played Japan in Townsville at the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
The July 18 blockbuster will also mark the first double-header of 2020 with the Buildcorp Wallaroos to also take centre stage at the recently unveiled 25,000 seat stadium.
The Buildcorp Wallaroos will play world number three Canada following a hugely successful domestic Test campaign in 2019, with home fixtures against Japan and New Zealand.
Rugby Australia Chief Executive, Raelene Castle said: “The Qantas Wallabies and Buildcorp Wallaroos are coming to Townsville for the first time this July and we are ready to turn the city Gold ahead of this historic double-header.
“We were hugely impressed by Queensland Country Bank Stadium and the offering it will provide for fans, both from the North Queensland region and for those travelling from interstate and abroad. It’s a world-class facility that the sports-loving people of North Queensland have been craving for many years and we look forward to being one of the first sports to experience the venue.
“Fiji have proven themselves to be well and truly on the rise, and I know Dave Rennie and the rest of the Wallabies coaches are preparing for another very tough contest.”
“We’re also delighted that the Buildcorp Wallaroos will share the stage in Townsville and continue their growth ahead of their Rugby World Cup next year. Head Coach Dwayne Nestor has done a great job of developing the team on the field but also connecting with the community off-the-field, and we’ll be looking to continue that when we visit the region,” Castle said.
Townsville MP Scott Stewart said: “It’s the State Government that’s built a brand new stadium in Townsville and it’s the State Government that’s leading negotiations to make sure it’s filled.
“We’ve negotiated for months to lock away this deal because we know how important major events are for North Queensland.
“World class footy content brings thousands of tourists – supporting local businesses and local jobs. That’s what this is all about.
“We’re expecting a strong turnout. It will be a great opportunity for rugby fans from southern states to escape the winter blues and head north to experience an epic double-header in beautiful North Queensland,” Stewart said.
Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said the game was expected to generate 13,000 visitor nights, and $3 million for local businesses.
“Scott lobbied hard for a new Townsville Stadium for years. And he’s been harassing me for months about securing new footy content in 2020 and 2021. It’s early days but the calendar is looking great,” she said.
“The flow-on benefits of this double-header will be great for local businesses.
“With the Reef, rainforest and a growing list of tourism attractions, there’s something for everyone in Townsville. We’re encouraging fans to stay in North Queensland and have a holiday after they watch the footy to support the local tourism sector.”
Minister for Housing and Public Works and Minister for Sport Mick de Brenni said North Queensland was continuing to produce some Australian rugby greats.
“We committed and have now have delivered a world class stadium in the heart of North Queensland meaning local rugby fans will have never been closer to the action.
“And it’s not just the Queensland Country Bank Stadium pitch that will be seeing some action, the Palaszczuk Government is working with Rugby Australia on a series of community events in the lead-up.
“There’s going to be a buzz around this event that we want to harness and convert to inspiring participation in grassroots rugby clubs like the Ross River Redskins and Brothers Rugby Union Club,” de Brenni said.
Townsville City Council Mayor Jenny Hill said: “This double-header is a fantastic opportunity to showcase Townsville to the rest of Australia and the world.
“It’s also great news for locals who will be able to witness world-class rugby in their very own stadium.
“Townsville City Council is proud to partner with Tourism and Events Queensland and Rugby Australia to deliver this event, which we hope will be the first of many high-profile events at our magnificent stadium,” Cr Hill said.
Rugby will take pride of place at the Queensland Country Bank Stadium Open Day on February 22 with the public encouraged to sign up for Team Rugby and Wallaby First at the various stalls and activity stations to be set up around the precinct.
Tickets will go on-sale on April 22 for the historic North Queensland Test via Ticketek. Sign up for early bird ticket information here.
Hospitality packages are on sale now for Townsville’s first-ever Test with various functions and private suites available. Information on hospitality packages is available here.
The Wallabies Test against Fiji will follow a two-Test series against Ireland in Brisbane and Sydney on July 4 and July 11 respectively.
The Queensland Country Bank Stadium announcement completes the Wallabies domestic Test schedule for 2020 with fixtures to be taken across the country, including Newcastle, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.