Touring Wales to play Queensland Reds in 20-year first

Murray Wenzel |

The Queensland Reds are delighted to have secured a clash with Wales to end their Australian tour.
The Queensland Reds are delighted to have secured a clash with Wales to end their Australian tour.

Wales will play the Queensland Reds in a 20-year first that Ballymore powerbrokers hope becomes a calendar staple.

The Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) announced the July 19 fixture on Saturday, moments before the Reds hosted the Chiefs at Suncorp Stadium.

Wales, who thumped the Wallabies 40-6 on the way to the World Cup quarter-finals last year, will play Tests in Sydney and Melbourne before heading north to face the Reds.

Suncorp Stadium will host just one Test this year, against South Africa on August 10.

But this clash will lock in a sporting feast in late July, with the Wallaroos, the third State of Origin and a Brisbane AFL game all to be played inside a week in the city.

The Reds last hosted the touring British and Irish Lions in 2013, but this game will mark their first against a major touring nation 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 still to make his Test debut. 

“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).”

When Wales coach Warren Gatland expressed his desire for a third fixture on tour, QRU chief executive Dave Hanham was pleased to oblige.

“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.”

AAP