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.
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Gloucester may be coming off their best win of the season, the 38-16 victory over Wasps last weekend, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys admits that Sunday's trip to Saracens is an even tougher test.
Looking to try a new sport? Look no further than Walking Rugby as thanks to Gloucester Rugby you can come along and try out the fast-growing sport at taster sessions across the county, starting this Wednesday.
Gloucester return to European Rugby Challenge Cup action on Thursday evening with the visit of Stade Rochelais to Kingsholm (kick off 7:45pm). Early Bird ticket prices are available until 6:30pm on matchday.
Talk about a game of two halves. Things looked grim on Saturday as Gloucester trailed 0-6 to Bristol at half-time. However, Matt Scott's eighth try of the season got Gloucester off and running, and the visitors fell apart as the Cherry and Whites eased to a 26-18 bonus point Aviva Premiership win.