Queensland Reds lock in historic tour game in Bristol in 2025

Tue, Apr 9, 2024, 8:49 AM
Reds Media Unit
by Reds Media Unit

The Queensland Reds will embark on their first European tour in 35 years early in 2025 after securing an historic match against top English club Bristol Bears.

The coup will create a quality pre-season preparation for head coach Les Kiss and his team entering the 2025 Super Rugby Pacific campaign.

The match on January 31 at Bristol’s Ashton Gate stadium will be part of a two-game tour on dates which will allow the Reds’ Wallabies to be available.

“When I mentioned this opportunity to our leadership group, they described it as 'epic',” said Kiss, who had club coaching stints with London Irish and Ulster in Europe.

“It’s a chance to play a leading English club in their environment in a British and Irish Lions year, it’s a pre-season match that creates excellent preparation for our 2025 Super Rugby Pacific season and we play at a great stadium.

“I’ve coached against Pat Lam-coached teams before and there have been some classic matches amongst them. I expect this to be no different.”

The Reds last embarked on a full-cap European tour in 1990 although a Reds development team made a tour of Ireland in 2008 when caps weren't awarded.

They do have history against Bristol with a fixture played on Queensland’s European tour in late 1980. On that occasion, a team studded with Reds greats Paul McLean, Tony Shaw, Roger Gould and Andrew Slack drew 9-all with Bristol in cold, heavy conditions.

Reds co-captain Tate McDermott said the pre-season tour had enormous benefits in a number of areas.

“This is huge for us as a club and for our supporter base,” McDermott said.

“When the leadership group first heard of the plans, we couldn’t believe it.

“We saw the Crusaders go over early this year to test themselves in pre-season games (against Bristol and Munster). We now get the chance at a terrific pre-season to bond and play quality opposition. It’s something to be really excited for.

“New Zealanders play a certain way. Fijians do too. To come up against a different style altogether, with a lot of set piece-based footy and some really talented Bristol backs, is another really great test for the squad.”

A second game on tour is being formalised.

For the Queensland Rugby Union, it is another strong sign of the importance placed on developing a strong program for players and coaches.

It follows the historic announcement of a July 19 clash for the Reds against Wales at Suncorp Stadium.

“It’s all about building a rugby program where our players play more often at a higher level. It’s the same for the development of our coaching staff,” QRU Chief Executive Dave Hanham said.

“The value of international exposure to different team styles is proven.

“This also allows us to take the brand of the Reds overseas into the wider rugby community.”