International rugby returns to Coffs

INTERNATIONAL rugby will make its return to Coffs Harbour for the first time since the 2001 British and Irish Lions tour when Australia 'A' hosts Samoa, and Tonga takes on Japan in an IRB Pacific Nations Cup double-header in June.

The Australia A rugby team, which last year featured more than a dozen Qantas Wallabies, will host Samoa at BCU International Stadium on Saturday, June 2.

Coffs Harbour's first ever rugby Test match, between Tonga and Japan and a schoolboys local derby will be played as the curtain raisers to the main event.

Australia A has joined Samoa, the Junior All Blacks, Japan, Tonga and Fiji for the inaugural IRB Pacific Nations Cup this year ensuring that the match will not be treated lightly by any of the four competing teams.

Qantas Wallabies head coach John Connolly said the matches provide a great opportunity for the local community to show their support for Australia in the lead up to this year's Rugby World Cup.

"This is a fantastic opportunity to see two high quality games of international rugby and some of Australia and the Pacific region's best players," he added.

"Australia A is traditionally the stepping stone to Wallaby selection and in a World Cup year, these Pacific Nations Cup games will be crucial for players pressing for World Cup selection."

Tickets for the international rugby double-header go on sale Wednesday through the Jetty Theatre Box Office and the Coffs Harbour City Council website, and fans are encouraged to take advantage of an Early Bird saving of 10 per cent.

Coffs Harbour Mayor, Councillor Keith Rhoades is eager to welcome players and fans to the city for the event in June.

"As the official Home of the Wallabies since 2000, Coffs Harbour has a strong link with Australian rugby, and it's wonderful to have these two international rugby matches on our local sporting calendar this year," Cr Rhoades said.

"The thousands of local and regional fans will undoubtedly look forward to seeing professional, international rugby played at our BCU International Stadium, and it's great that they can take advantage of the Early Bird offer to get discounted tickets."

The day promises to be a feast of rugby with two curtain raiser matches setting the tone for the Australia A v Samoa clash.

The first match will see a schoolboys local derby between Bishop Druitt College 1st XV and John Paul College 1st XV at midday, followed by the city's first ever rugby Test match, between Tonga and Japan at 1.30pm.

Tickets through the Early Bird Offer start from $9.00 for Children, $18.00 for Adults and $45.00 for Families. Children under six years will be given free general admission.

n The Early Bird offer is available from 10.00am Wednesday until 5.00pm Wednesday, May 9.

Gold tickets are for Reserved seating in the Grandstand. Silver (General Admission) tickets are for Unreserved seating in all other areas of the Stadium.

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