16 Aug 2022

Junior rugby scores on the big stage

The next generation of South Australian Rugby players will get a chance to see their heroes in action at Adelaide Oval next week in a clash which is expected to deliver a rise in the code’s local participation.

The double-header – to be played at Adelaide Oval on Saturday 27 August – will be the only time that both the men’s and women’s teams play together at the same fixture this year. More than 30,000 fans are expected to attend, with thousands of visitors set to travel to South Australia from interstate.

When the Wallabies played in Adelaide at the Rugby World Cup in 2003, Rugby registrations across the state grew by 30 percent – a huge jump for the sport being played in a non-traditional market

Rugby officials are expecting interest in the sport will spike as a result of the historic Wallaroos v NZ Black Ferns and Wallabies v South African Springboks test matches being played in Adelaide next weekend.

With the aim of rolling out modified programs in more than 30 schools, and a boost in junior registrations, Rugby Union SA is predicting this month’s matches will help drive further growth of around 12 per cent per year.

Both the Wallabies and Wallaroos will use the matches as an important step on the path to their respective Rugby World Cups – the men in France next year, and the women in New Zealand this October. Australia has been announced to host both Rugby World Cups in 2027 and 2029.

Premier Peter Malinauskas said the double-header is a perfect showcase for the sport of Rugby in South Australia.

“It’s been almost 20 years since the Wallabies last played here – and it is the first time the Wallaroos get to run on to Adelaide Oval," he said.

“We know the last time the elite level of Rugby came to play here, interest spiked and registrations rolled in – that’s a great outcome and gives many, many more young South Aussies a chance to play the game, hang out with their friends and maybe even chart a path to a professional career.

“Wouldn’t it be terrific if we had the next Eva Karpani or James O’Connor running around here today, and getting their chance in a few years to represent their country?!”

Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos said it is tremendously exciting to be bringing the Wallabies back to Adelaide for the first time in 18 years – and the Buildcorp Wallaroos for the first time ever.

“It is also quite a coup for Adelaide to have secured a double-header with both of the current Rugby World Cup holders in the Springboks for the men, and the Black Ferns for the women," he said.

“With the matches being scheduled for a Saturday afternoon, it is a wonderful opportunity for families to get along to the Adelaide Oval and witness some of the best Rugby in the world.

"We hope that the occasion inspires the young South Australians to play our great sport – and we thank the state government for their commitment to our shared vision of growth for Rugby in South Australia.

“Let’s make this a memorable day where we get behind our men and women in gold as they battle against two current world champions at this historic ground!”

Rugby Union South Australia CEO Carl Jones said having the two matches in Adelaide – in a family-friendly afternoon time slot – is a real bonus for local rugby fans, and also people who love the experience of watching fast paced, high action sport.

“We have a very strong and growing rugby community in South Australia, so the opportunity to see some of the superstars of the sport right here at Adelaide Oval is going to be amazing," he said.

“All of this activity helps grow our game – so if that helps us get into more schools, offer more modified versions of the game and give boys and girls a chance to play, then that is a great outcome.”

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