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Test rugby heads to Port Elizabeth

Test match rugby is set for a return to South Africa's Eastern Cape region after it was announced that the Springboks will play New Zealand in Port Elizabeth next year.

The encounter, which will be the first time that the Tri-Nations is taken to the province, is likely to take place at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium which hosted several matches during this summer's football World Cup.

It will also be the All Blacks' first Test in the city for over 40 years - the last time they played there was 1970.

The move is part of a South African Rugby Union (SARU) ploy to take top-class rugby to the region.

Details are yet to be finalised, but the awarding of the match is subject to all three unions in the Southern Kings region (Eastern Province, Border and South Western Districts) benefiting from the move and on agreement of an appropriate Test match hosting model.

"There is a hunger in the region for top flight rugby," Oregan Hoskins, the president of SARU said. "Port Elizabeth now has a top-flight venue in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium and SARU has a long-standing commitment to assist in bringing top-flight rugby back to the region.

"This is a tangible proof of our commitment."

The other 2011 Tri Nations Test against Australia was allocated to the KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union, subject to discussions with the union.

Meanwhile, the competitions committee of the executive council was also instructed to formulate a proposal to assist the Southern Kings franchise in their preparations for potential Super Rugby inclusion in 2013.

The region has for a long time been lobbying for a place in the southern hemisphere competition. Last year they narrowly missed out on winning a tender for a new franchise, which was awarded to Australian side, Melbourne Rebels.


From Belfast Telegraph