The Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) has today announced Roma will host the 2022 Santos Festival of Rugby culminating in a pre-season match between the Queensland Reds and New South Wales Waratahs in February next year.
Following the overwhelming success of this year’s inaugural event in Narrabri, the annual celebration of Rugby heads north to outback Queensland in 2022 as the Reds look to avenge their loss to the Waratahs and claim the Santos Cup with victory over their oldest rivals on home soil.
Hosted by the Roma Echidnas Rugby Union Club and in partnership with Santos and Maranoa Regional Council, the two-day festival will be held between February 11-12 and is set to deliver entertainment for fans both on-and-off the field.
On both days the annual Roma Rugby 7s tournament will take place with men’s and women’s teams from across the state descending on the region for the lucrative title and prize money up for grabs.
There will also be live concerts on the Friday and Saturday nights with performances by iconic 90’s Australian rock band Chocolate Starfish and also energetic cover band Furnace and the Fundamentals who played at this year’s Super Rugby AU Grand Final at Suncorp Stadium.
While both bands are sure to get the party going in the small country town, the Reds and Waratahs fixture forms the centrepiece for the festival and will provide both teams with an important final hit-out ahead of the newly formed Super Rugby Pacific tournament that kicks off the very next week.
QRU CEO David Hanham said: “We’re looking forward to once again being involved with this high-quality event.
“It’s great we can bring this celebration of Rugby to regional Queensland next year and we can’t wait to experience the country hospitality throughout our stay in Roma.
"This has become a flagship event in the Rugby calendar and we look forward to making it even better than last year.
“Following the success of our ‘Reds to Regions’ visits over the past two years, the two-day event will further our connection with country communities across this great state and we thank our major partner Santos, Maranoa Regional Council and also the New South Wales Rugby Union for making this festival possible.”
NSWRU CEO Paul Doorn said: “The Santos Festival of Rugby is a fantastic event for country Rugby and something we’re really excited to continue to be involved in.
“Last season’s event in Narrabri was a huge success and provided the Waratahs with a great opportunity to connect with the Rugby heartland of country New South Wales and the players to get a pre-season hit-out against our oldest rivals.
“Whilst we maintain a fierce rivalry on the field, we’re so pleased to be working with the Reds and Santos on this great initiative to foster the growth of our great game.”
Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos said: “It’s set to be another cracking Festival of Rugby in 2022 after the terrific success earlier this year in Narrabri.
“The Festival is a true celebration of the Rugby community that the regional game thrives off, right around Australia. We are all looking forward to the 2022 edition, that is set to deliver great rugby on the field and warm hospitality off the field from the people of Roma."
Santos Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Gallagher said the 2022 Santos Festival of Rugby builds on the enormous success of the Narrabri event, which saw more than 3,500 people attend and generated almost $1 million in direct and indirect spend with local businesses and investment in legacy infrastructure.
“Sport brings communities together and promotes healthy living and the Santos Festival of Rugby drives a significant boost in economic activity for our regional towns,” Mr Gallagher said.
“In Narrabri we know the pubs and cafes had their busiest weekends ever, the kids got access to training opportunities with Australian legends and there was a buzz around the whole town.
“Our regional communities are the lifeblood of the country. It’s a pleasure to support the Reds and Waratahs as they give back to these towns and we look forward to welcoming even more people in 2022 as COVID restrictions hopefully ease.”
Resources Minister Scott Stewart said the resources sector has been a long-term economic contributor in regional Queensland through jobs and business opportunities.
“Resources companies also play a role in community life through their work in schools, community groups and initiatives like the Festival of Rugby,” Mr Stewart said.
“I congratulate the QRU and Santos on this initiative and I encourage everyone in the south-west to support the Festival of Rugby and the Queensland Reds in their match against the Waratahs.”
Maranoa Regional Council Mayor Tyson Golder said the region is extremely excited to host this event next year.
“We look forward to welcoming the Reds and Waratahs, as well as all the Rugby 7s players and spectators to the outback,” Cr Golder said.
“We thank all those involved for the opportunity to host the 2022 Santos Festival of Rugby in Roma.”
Roma Echidnas Rugby Union Club President Richard Bright said it was great to build upon the success of the Roma 7s tournament with a festival of Rugby in the region.
“We’re looking forward to hosting everyone in Roma for an exciting weekend of Rugby and entertainment culminating in the Reds and Waratahs pre-season fixture at the home of the Echidnas at Galas Fox Park.”
Further details including tickets and match times will be released closer to the event.