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.
GRTV FEATURE | We caught up with Rugby Development Manager Terry Fanolua on Monday morning, on the first day of the Half Term Rugby Camps at Wycliffe College. Fanolua spoke about what was in store ahead of a busy week on the pitch! Check out the GoPro footage as we got up close to the action!
Speaking after the 37-8 European Rugby Challenge Cup win over Benetton Treviso, James Hook admitted that the Italian side made things tough for Gloucester at times but that the Cherry and Whites are happy to take the bonus point win and turn their focus to Northampton next week.
Speaking to GRTV after the game, Backs Coach Tim Taylor was happy with the squad as they cruised to victory over Treviso. The result wasn't in doubt, but the Cherry and Whites laboured to secure a crucial try bonus point.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester Rugby centre Matt Scott is excited to take the field again as the Cherry and Whites look to build on the win in Bayonne when Treviso come to Kingsholm this Saturday.
Defence Coach Jonny Bell admitted this week that the European Rugby Challenge Cup victory in Bayonne was a welcome one, stressed that Benetton Treviso will pose a tough test on Saturday at Kingsholm but that Gloucester are determined to deliver in front of their own fans.
Motu Matu'u is looking to make up for lost time this week as the Cherry and Whites head to Basque Country to take on Bayonne in the European Rugby Challenge Cup opener. The Samoan hooker made his first appearance in the jersey last weekend, and is hoping to contribute to the team this weekend.
Gloucester's attentions turn to Europe this weekend as they travel to Bayonne for their opening fixture of this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup. Forwards Coach Trevor Woodman told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will be aiming to top their pool as they've done for the past two seasons, but is well aware of how tough it is to win in France.
The Gloucester Rugby Half Term Rugby Camps got off to a great start on Monday morning, with over 60 young rugby players braving the chilly weather to experience a great day of skills, learning and fun thanks to the Gloucester Rugby Community Department.
A number of Gloucester Rugby's promising young players are currently playing their competitive rugby on loan at other clubs, and six of them featured in Saturday's game between London Welsh and Rotherham Titans.