Wallabies switch to smaller Perth stadium in 2016

Wallabies switch to smaller Perth stadium in 2016
By Reuters

27/07/2015 at 13:17Updated 27/07/2015 at 13:20

Australia will play their first test at Perth's NIB stadium in 2016 after declining crowds for the Wallabies' home matches at the Western Australian capital's larger Subiaco Oval.

The Wallabies will complete their home Rugby Championship schedule at the 20,300-capacity stadium on Sept. 17 against Argentina after kicking off the tournament against New Zealand in Sydney on Aug. 20.

Australia return to NIB, the home ground of Super Rugby side Western Force, the following year for a match against South Africa in September, the Australian Rugby Union said in a media release on Monday.

A disappointing crowd of 26,000 turned up for the Wallabies' match at the 43,500-capacity Subiaco Oval against the Springboks last year, down from the 34,000 who turned up for the 2012 fixture.

Like most major stadiums in Australia's southern states, Subiaco caters primarily for Australian Rules football matches and features a sprawling, oval-shaped ground awkward for watching rugby.

The ARU said they wanted to bring fans closer to the action at the rectangular NIB stadium, which is more suited to rugby and soccer.

"Our fans deserve the best possible experience when they come to a test match and a move to a rectangular venue which is fan-friendly and purpose-built for rugby is a great outcome for fans," ARU CEO Bill Pulver said in a statement.

The move follows the switch to a smaller venue in Melbourne for the Wallabies' June test series against England next year after a poor crowd turned up for last year's fixture against France.

The Wallabies drew 27,000 for the June match against Les Bleus at the 53,000-seat Docklands Stadium, another sprawling venue with an oval-shaped ground suited for Australian Rules.

Against England, they will play at the 30,000-seat Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, the home ground of Super Rugby side Melbourne Rebels.

Australia play their other England matches in Brisbane and Sydney, meaning the Gold Coast has been dumped as a test venue in 2016 after only 14,000 turned up for last year's game against Argentina, the lowest Wallabies crowd in 16 years.

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Australia 2016 home fixtures for The Rugby Championship:

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Australia v New Zealand, Aug. 20, Sydney

Australia v South Africa, Sept. 10, Brisbane

Australia v Argentina, Sept. 17, Perth

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Australia 2016 June test series:

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Australia v England, Brisbane, June 11

Australia v England, Melbourne, June 18

Australia v England, Sydney, June 25