Wallabies to welcome France in a series of condensed biosecurity tests

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The Wallabies and France will meet in three tests in just 11 days in July, with the teams playing two tests midweek. The first test will take place in Sydney on Wednesday July 7 at SCG followed by a Melbourne match on Tuesday night at AAMI Park on July 13 and a final test on Saturday July 17 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

The condensed series is due to the commitments of French clubs and the quarantine of hotels for visitors. This is the first time since 2012 that the Wallabies have played a midweek test, with Australia losing that game to Scotland. Both countries will name larger-than-normal teams for the series as it is unlikely that they will be able to field the same starting camp in successive tests.

France will release a team of 40 in two groups, and the entire cohort will have been vaccinated before arriving, Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos said on Friday. They will be quarantined in Sydney but will be allowed to train for the mandatory 14 days, similar to Argentina’s arrangements when the Pumas visited Australia for last year’s Tri-Nations.

“The France team will come out here fully vaccinated, which is positive and will come out in a bubble,” said Marinos.

The Blues made their last tour of Australia in 2014, when the Wallabies won the series 3-0. France is ranked fifth in the world and was as high as third in its recent Six Nations race earlier this year, while Australia is ranked seventh. However, with the Top 14 final set for June 26, some of France’s top players will not be available for early testing due to quarantine requirements upon arrival in Australia.

As the games unfold over the school holidays, Rugby Australia is hoping to attract families while chief executive Andy Marinos says they aim to capture workers on their way home.

“The return of the midweek test matches presents a unique opportunity for supporters at home and at the venue, with each stadium in a central location for those attending after work,” said Marinos. “France is one of the most exciting teams in World Rugby; they play with passion, flair and unpredictability and have proven time and time again to be one of the global strengths of our game.

Marinos said they had included RUPA – the players’ association – in discussions surrounding the condensed schedule and had their support.

“We have enjoyed constructive and engaged discussions with RUPA and the playgroup on the international calendar, ensuring that player well-being and high performance results can be maximized,” he said. “Rugby Australia, World Rugby and the member unions will continue their ongoing dialogue in the planning of each Test Match, in accordance with the advice of the relevant medical authorities.”

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