It was announced on Wednesday that Super Rugby will be played at Mars Stadium in 2019.
The City of Ballarat has entered into a three-year partnership with the Melbourne Rebels, providing the region’s rugby union fans a chance to see their idols in action right here in Ballarat.
Melbourne Rebels will take on the Queensland Reds during a practice match at Mars Stadium on Friday 1 February.
Ballarat Mayor Samantha McIntosh said this was a fantastic opportunity for Ballarat and Western Victorian rugby fans to see top level rugby in their own backyard.
“This will be the first rugby match to be played at Mars Stadium,” she said.
“The Rebels have had a longstanding connection to Ballarat and particularly the Eureka rebellion – it’s going to be great to take that connection with Ballarat to the next level with this practice match.
For the City of Ballarat, the practice match is a positive opportunity to promote rugby being played in Ballarat – specifically women’s rugby.
“We would love to see a women’s team in Ballarat, and we believe exposure to matches of this calibre go to the core of our Active Women and Girls’ Strategy which aims to positively influence and encourage equitable participation in sport,” Mayor McIntosh said.
“We’re also doing a lot of work with the local rugby community to promote the sport in Ballarat. As we speak we have lights being installed at Doug Dean Recreation Reserve and we look forward to working with the local rugby community there to improve amenities that will support local rugby teams into the future – both male and female.”
Melbourne Rebels General Manager Rugby and Pathways Nick Ryan said the Rebels were excited to be taking their trial next year against the Reds to their spiritual home of Ballarat.
“At the start of every season we make a point of sharing our history with our players and staff, so returning to Ballarat is always a special occasion for the club,” he said.
“Whether it’s our pre-season camps, NRC games or Super Rugby trials, we’ve always enjoyed our time in Ballarat and the support of the community.
“I know the Ballarat Rugby Club have a proud history within the Victorian Country Rugby competition. I think it’s important that a trial like this can give the local game a platform to promote itself within the community.
“The ground here is first class and I know both the Reds and our guys will be impressed by the state of the surface and the facilities. We’re committed to engaging with the local community during our visits and playing some entertaining rugby on the night.”
More than 2000 people are expected to attend the upcoming practice match which will also feature activities throughout the day for the whole family.