Wales Are Coming: Queensland Reds to face Wales

Sat, Mar 9, 2024, 8:12 AM
Reds Media Unit
by Reds Media Unit

Wales will play the Queensland Reds in July after a coup to entice the renowned rugby nation to make an extra tour stop in Brisbane.

A Friday night clash at Suncorp Stadium on July 19 is now a feature fixture on the 2024 calendar.

The negotiating vision of the Queensland Rugby Union, and the crucial support of both Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) and the Brisbane Economic Development Agency (BEDA), synchronised perfectly with the Welsh Rugby Union.

The game will create a blockbuster week of sport for Brisbane, with the women’s Wallaroos v New Zealand’s Black Ferns at Ballymore on the afternoon of Sunday, July 14, State of Origin 3 on the Wednesday night to follow (July 17) and Reds v Wales on the Friday night, before the Brisbane Lions take on the Sydney Swans in AFL on the weekend of July 20-21.

Wales will play two Tests against the Wallabies in Sydney and Melbourne, before a final stop in Brisbane. Tickets will soon go on sale.

The Wales match will be a grand revival of the rich history of Queensland sides facing international touring teams. It will be the first clash for the Reds against a major touring nation in two decades since they beat Scotland 41-5 at Ballymore Stadium in 2004.

It will also be the first time the Reds have faced Wales since 1991 when Wallabies and Queensland great John Eales was a stripling still to make his Test debut.

Eales applauded the revival of a clash between the Queensland Reds and a major touring team, the first since a full house at Suncorp Stadium cheered the Reds against the 2013 British and Irish Lions.

“It’s a wonderful initiative and Queensland rugby fans will make something special of it,” Eales said.

“I know for me, facing Wales as a Reds player in 1991 was the first top international side I played against. It was huge.

“That was because there is so much history and heritage to these Queensland clashes against international sides, including wins over the All Blacks (1980) and Lions (1971).

“This match against Wales in July will be a great incentive for Queensland players and a celebration of the heritage of Queensland rugby.”

QRU officials hatched the idea of a Queensland Reds v Wales clash which will give the state’s top players an invaluable opportunity to extend their skills against the 2023 World Cup quarter-finalists.

When the Welsh Rugby Union expressed an eagerness to play an extra game on their two-Test tour of Australia in July, the exciting event was set in motion.

A partnership between the QRU, TEQ and Brisbane City Council, through BEDA, moved swiftly to lock in the match which will be a magnet for Queensland fans of all ages.

Minister for Tourism and Sport, Michael Healy said: “Queenslanders love rugby, so seeing the Reds take on Wales in Brisbane later this year is a significant milestone in showcasing Queensland as Australia’s premier sporting destination.

“It’s exciting to see the revival of Queensland’s rugby heritage as a local team faces a major touring nation again, the first time for the Reds in two decades.

“The match takes place during such a blockbuster week of sport for Queensland, with the Wallaroos v Black Ferns, Game Three of State of Origin and the Brisbane Lions going up against the Sydney Swans in the AFL.”

BEDA Chief Executive Officer Anthony Ryan said the international match was another win for Brisbane’s packed calendar of major events in 2024.

“We’re thrilled to be adding another international sports event to our impressive calendar of major events in Brisbane this year,” Mr Ryan said.

“Thousands of sporting fans are expected to descend on our city to watch the Reds go head-to-head with Wales, generating millions of dollars in economic benefits for local Brisbane businesses, including our hotels, restaurants, and tourism operators.

“This touring match will give us a glimpse of what’s in store for the British and Irish Lions tour in 2025. We hope spectators and players soak up the action on and off the field as they enjoy everything Brisbane has to offer.

“Brisbane is shining as the nation’s newest sporting capital, hosting three popular football codes across one thrilling week of national and international sporting action this July.”

QRU Chief Executive Officer David Hanham said the match would set an important precedent for touring sides.

“We want International sides to see a tour game against the Reds as an essential part of their tours to Australia,” he said.

“With the British and Irish Lions game against Queensland next year locked in, and the new Nations Championship coming in 2026 there are lots of opportunities for our fans to watch the Reds face top-flight opposition outside of Super Rugby.

“It’s also a vital part of our plan to get our players playing more games.”

WRU Executive Performance Director Nigel Walker OBE said: “Facing the Queensland Reds in Brisbane will provide the perfect climax to a summer on the road for Wales’ senior men’s side.

“Tests against South Africa, in London, and Australia in Sydney and then Melbourne mean we should arrive in Brisbane battle-hardened and ready for action.

“The game against the Reds is a nod to traditional tours when Test teams regularly took on club sides during their travels and we look forward to celebrating the end of a tough season in style at Suncorp Stadium on July 19.”

Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland said he was looking forward to playing in front of a big crowd including a large Welsh supporters’ tour.

“We’re excited for the opportunity we have with our two Tests in Australia in July. We know the Wallabies will be hurting after the Rugby World Cup but Australia is a tough place to go and play rugby and we’re expecting a fired up side led by new Head Coach Joe Schmidt,” Gatland said.

“We were keen to have a third fixture while in Australia so we are really pleased that we have been able to arrange that with the Queensland Reds to finish up our tour Down Under.”