How rugby can seal greatest weekend of sport in history
Rugby Australia is considering breaking with more than a century of tradition to play its part in creating the greatest blockbuster weekend of sport in Australian history.
If the proposal is approved, the Wallabies will abandon their long-established convention of playing Bledisloe Cup matches on weekends by switching the game to a Friday evening.
But not just any Friday. The Daily Telegraph understands the one they have in mind is Friday October 23 - which would set the stage for the most anticipated weekend of sport ever seen in Australia.
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The T20 Cricket World Cup is also scheduled for that time but almost certain to be postponed but the domestic sports are in better shape.
Everything is still reliant on government rules around COVID-19 but the success in reducing the number of infections has given all four bodies the confidence to proceed with their plans and work together to produce an unprecedented sporting feast.
The AFL has already signalled its intention to play its grand final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday October 24, possibly at night for the first time to avoid clashing with Australia's weight-for-age championship, which is due to be run at Moonee Valley during the afternoon.
With the NRL grand final taking place in Sydney on the Sunday, Rugby Australia will look to keep the Wallabies out of New South Wales and Victoria that weekend so will head to either Brisbane or Perth, depending on whether Australia is chosen as the site for the Rugby Championship.
Normally played home and away in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina, this year's tournament is likely to be played in a single hub to reduce travel, with Australia the favourite destination.
International sources have told The Daily Telegraph the Rugby Championship is likely to start on October 10 - pending border travel rules at the time - and run for three successive weekends without any breaks.
That would mean the series would culminate in the last round taking place on the same weekend as the NRL and AFL deciders.
New Zealand is Rugby Australia's preferred opponent for the bonanza weekend but with the Wallabies already pencilled into play four tests against the All Blacks this year - two in each country - officials are also weighing up whether to play the world champions South Africa instead, which would give the Bledisloe Cup matches clean air.
The deciding factor in where the Rugby Championship will be plate could come down to whether or not crowds are allowed to attend.
As things currently stand, the Kiwis are in the box seat after it was announced yesterday that New Zealand's domestic Super Rugby competition, kicking off this weekend, will be played in front of unlimited crowds.
"We're incredibly proud, and grateful, to be the first professional sports competition in the world to be in a position to have our teams play in front of their fans again, New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said.
The gates will be opened to the New Zealand public on Saturday when the Highlanders host the Chiefs in Dunedin then again on Sunday when All Blacks legend Dan Carter makes his comeback for the Blues against the Hurricanes in Auckland.
Australia's revamped domestic competition isn't due to start for another four weeks but officials are quietly hopeful spectators will be allowed in to watch, with the NRL already getting approval for up to 1,000 fans this weekend and possibly 15,000 by July.
If there is no second wave during winter, it's widely expected crowds will be back in full force for the proposed October blockbuster.
AUSTRALIA'S GREATEST WEEKEND OF SPORT
Friday October 23 - Bledisloe Cup
Saturday October 24 - WS Cox Plate
Saturday October 24 - AFL Grand Final
Sunday October 25 - NRL Grand Final
Originally published as How rugby can seal greatest weekend of sport in history