The St.George Queensland Reds will host the Chiefs in Townsville next month for Round 3 of the Harvey Norman Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competition in a weekend Kiwi double header.
The match against the Waikato-based Chiefs will be played on 29 May, the day after the North Queensland Cowboys’ clash against the New Zealand Warriors.
Queensland Rugby Union chief executive officer David Hanham said the match was the first stage of the QRU’s long-term strategy for North Queensland.
“We want to be bringing more matches to Townsville and North Queensland – Super Rugby games, Wallabies Tests and elite Sevens tournaments,” he said.
“Rugby is booming in North Queensland and we want to continue to grow the game by exposing our local club players and fans to some of the best rugby in the world.
“We want to particularly thank the Palaszczuk Government, Tourism and Events Queensland and Townsville City Council for their enthusiastic support of this great weekend for the city and the North.”
Queensland head coach Brad Thorn said his team was excited to bring a Super Rugby match to Townsville for the first time in 15 years.
“We want Townsville’s stadium to be our North Queensland cauldron,” he said.
“The Reds represent the entire state. It’s very important for us to play in front of our fans in North Queensland.
“You’ve seen all the positives from our Reds to Regions visits. This game will be another way to continue our connection with regional Queensland communities,” Thorn said.
Tourism and Sport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the match will create a “weekend footy festival” in Townsville.
“Townsville will be buzzing on the last weekend of May, with a feast of footy on offer at Queensland Country Bank Stadium,” Minister Hinchliffe said.
“By securing the Queensland Reds’ Trans-Tasman clash against the Waikato-based Chiefs for the day after the North Queensland Cowboys’ game against the New Zealand Warriors, we’ve created a weekend footy festival which we hope will lure footy fans to North Queensland for a weekend getaway.
“This is a unique opportunity to see both codes in action against Kiwi opposition at a world-class stadium in the beating heart of North Queensland.
“We look forward to working with the Reds and Townsville City Council to create a footy festival atmosphere in the north.
“Events continue to play a vital role in our state’s COVID-19 economic recovery, and we expect the Reds’ Trans-Tasman match to draw 4,000 visitors to Townsville, pumping $1.9 million into the local economy.
“With unrestricted travel between Australia and New Zealand now open, this Kiwi double-header could also be a great drawcard for our friends across the ditch looking for their next Queensland holiday.
“The weekend footy festival is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Queensland sports events in May, with the state capital hosting NRL Magic Round earlier in the month and a range of other events taking place around the state, worth more than $31 million to the state’s economy.
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said hosting the Reds v Chiefs game next month demonstrated the ongoing efforts to attract high-quality events to the stadium.
“The investment in the stadium is paying dividends for our city and region. In addition to Cowboys’ home games, our world-class stadium has already hosted blockbuster events such as Elton John, the Jeff Horn/Tim Tszyu fight and NRL All Stars game and we’re looking forward to KISS in December,” Cr Hill said.
“Hosting the Reds and Chiefs is another feather in our cap. Being a community that loves its sport, I’m sure we will see thousands of rugby union supporters enjoying two powerhouse teams play.
“We will continue to work with our partners to attract even more events. Big-ticket events are great news for our local economy. With the New Zealand travel bubble now open, I’m sure plenty of Chiefs supporters will take the opportunity to travel to Townsville to cheer-on their team and enjoy everything our city and region has to offer. That means business for our hotels, restaurants and tourism operators.”
Queensland Country Bank Stadium Venue Manager Tom Kimball said he hoped the event would be well supported by fans.
“We’re looking forward to an action-packed weekend of footy with a distinct NZ flavour, which makes it the ideal weekend for passionate fans to make the trip North or with the recently opened travel bubble, to jump across the ditch and enjoy some beautiful North Queensland winter weather,” Mr Kimball said.
“Stadiums Queensland and our key partners (TEQ, TCC and TEL) are working really hard to secure a range of different entertainment for the venue so we’re really excited to be delivering for our North Queensland rugby union fans, and we know a fierce rivalry like this gets the crowd going for a really fantastic atmosphere.”
Tickets will go onsale to the public on Friday 7 May.