The Qantas Wallabies have added further historical overtones to their Grand Slam tour of the UK and Ireland by agreeing to play a midweek match against English club side Gloucester.
The match will be staged on Tuesday, November 3, just three days after a ground-breaking Bledisloe Cup game in Tokyo and four days before the Wallabies open their first Grand Slam campaign in 25 years against England at Twickenham.
It will also be the first time an Australian national team has played at Kingsholm - home ground of Gloucester Rugby - since the inaugural Wallabies beat county side Gloucestershire 16-3 during their famous 1908-09 tour.
Those initial Wallabies left Sydney by steamship 101 years ago without a moniker and known only as the Australian Rugby Union team.
However, attempts by British media to label them the "Rabbits" led to a players' vote during the trip and majority support for the Wallabies name ahead of other contenders including the Waratahs, Wallaroos and Kookaburras.
The First Wallabies further etched their names into Australian sporting folklore by winning, midway through the tour, the Olympic gold medal for Rugby at the London Games.
"The history surrounding this tour is compelling and we're delighted a match against Gloucester will deepen the links to some great Wallabies teams of the past," said ARU Managing Director and CEO John O'Neill.
"This will be the first Grand Slam attempt since the 1984 squad coached by Alan Jones and captained by Andrew Slack became the first Australians to triumph, on the same tour, against four the Home Unions of England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland.
"There were great names throughout the team. The backline included legends in Mark Ella, Nick Farr-Jones, Michael Lynagh, David Campese and Roger Gould.
"The pack too included some of our all time greats and among the finest players in their respective positions, including Simon Poidevin, Tom Lawton and his front row partners Andy McIntyre and Enrique Rodriguez."
Qantas Wallabies coach Robbie Deans said the match against Gloucester, while linking the current squad to the past, was also about the future.
"We want to provide players with the opportunity to wear the national jersey and build competition for places in the Test side," he said.
"The match against Gloucester will fulfill that objective and give our players an early taste of British conditions against one of the leading clubs in Europe."
England Test centre Mike Tindall, who played in his country's victorious 2003 Rugby World Cup campaign in Australia, is the present Gloucester captain.
Several former Wallabies have also played at the club in recent years.
Centre Richard Tombs, a member of the 1999 World Cup squad, was one of Gloucester's first overseas signings while long-serving Test stars Jason Little and Jeremy Paul have also had stints at the club.
ARU is also expected to announce shortly a further midweek match for the Qantas Wallabies in the UK.
Jonny May's superb late score capped a thrilling 40-32 European play-off win over Connacht on Sunday. The winger spoke afterwards of his team's character and spirit as he looked ahead to one more week of rugby.
Speaking to GRTV this afternoon, Director of Rugby David Humphreys hailed the 'never say die' attitude of the team, after despite not being at their best, fighting back to take a 40-32 win after extra time over Connacht.
Jonny May continues on the wing on Sunday as Connacht come to town, and the England wing explains to the local media this week that he is delighted with his form and is looking forward to taking on Pat Lam's men.
Speaking to the local media this week, front rower John Afoa is familiar with the challenge of Connacht from his time in Belfast, and the World Cup winner is fully aware of the challenge they pose ahead of Sunday's meeting in the Champions Cup play off
Speaking ahead of Gloucester's European Rugby Champions play-off against Connacht on Sunday (Kingsholm, 3:30pm), Director of Rugby David Humphreys admitted that he's glad to have more players available than in recent weeks ahead of a tough fixture.
Nick Wood captained the Cherry and Whites on Saturday afternoon, and the experienced front rower expressed his pride in the young squad in defeat to Bath on the final day of the Aviva Premiership season.
Lewis Ludlow scored Gloucester's opening try in the 30-50 defeat at Bath on Saturday, part of an impressive performance by the young back row forward. Speaking after the game, he paid tribute to the young Gloucester side who went toe to toe with the Aviva Premiership semi-finalists.
Speaking to the local media after the game, Director of Rugby David Humphreys gave an honest assessment of the game, and expressed his pride in the way his young charges had performed against the title-chasing hosts.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester Rugby scrum half Callum Braley is excited by the challenge of the West Country Derby, and the ex-Bristol man reveals the squad will be giving their all.
At the recent London Irish game, personnel from the Imjin Barracks in Innsworth, including Gurkhas, were present, holding a collection to raise funds for ShelterBox to aid relief from the recent Nepal Earthquake Appeal.
It was a thriller at Kingsholm on Sunday afternoon, as Gloucester snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, leveling the scores in the final minute before triumphing in extra time over a spirited Connacht side.