ACT Brumbies acting chief executive Phil Thomson says the club is looking into playing a trial game in China next year, either in the pre-season or during the June Test window.
Thomson spent last week exploring opportunities with China Rugby, which could include taking a game to the world’s most populous country.
Brumbies acting CEO Phil Thomson is keen to organise a fixture in China next year. Photo: Karleen Minney
It comes on the back of the AFL confirming Port Adelaide will play Gold Coast in Shanghai next season.
Thomson said discussions were only in their preliminary stages, but they were keen to explore opportunities.
Phil Thomson and Brumbies general manager Simon Chester with China Rugby secretary general Cui Weihong. Photo: Supplied
He said next year was a possibility, either before the season or during it.
“We’re in discussions with people in China around that as a possibility, but nothing’s been confirmed or locked in at this stage,” Thomson said.
“They’re options we’ll certainly look at in that pre-season and June Test window as it stays available to potentially taking a game over to that region.
“Hopefully next year would be a possibility, but a lot of work needs to be done before that eventuates.”
Thomson said if the game went ahead it would either be against another Super Rugby team or a European one.
The Brumbies looked at playing in Singapore and were in discussions with former Brumbies playmaker Matt Giteau’s French club Toulon only for it to fall through. They also explored options of playing in China, with their major sponsor Aquis based in Hong Kong, but it was believed that had fallen through.
Now it’s back on the table.
“It wouldn’t be a Chinese side, potentially another Super Rugby side or even potentially a northern hemisphere team,” Thomson said.
“I remember there were some discussions of potentially playing [Toulon] I think it was in Singapore, but it didn’t eventuate obviously.
“A northern hemisphere side fits in very well with that region also – easy access and on a commercial front we’re looking at any opportunities that provide northern hemisphere exposure would be good.”
While Thomson was in China, the Wellington Hurricanes announced they would play the Brumbies in Napier – on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island.
It comes after direct flights between Canberra and Wellington have started.
While Thomson said they hadn’t been consulted in the decision, he felt the Brumbies would still be ahead in regards to travel time.
In the past they have had to fly to Sydney first and then fly across the ditch. Now they can head straight to Wellington and take a four-hour bus ride to Napier.
“I think we’re still in front with the travel to Sydney. The decision’s not ours and it’s been a decision that’s been made by the Wellington Hurricanes,” he said.
Brumbies lock Sam Carter could make the Wallabies team to face France in Paris this weekend following the injury to Adam Coleman (knee).
Carter was one of eight players to join the Wallabies squad in Paris ahead of Australia’s Test against France this weekend.
Toby Smith, Andrew Ready, Paddy Ryan, Nic Stirzaker, Luke Morahan, Taqele Naiyaravoro and Jono Lance were the others.
Carter was in England for the Barbarians’ clash against South Africa, which he hoped would help him force his way back into the Wallabies fold.