New South Wales Rugby Union (NSWRU) and Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) today announced that Narrabri, in northern New South Wales, will host the Santos Festival of Rugby in February 2021 – with a pre-season game between the Waratahs and the Reds at 8pm local-time on Friday 5 February the centrepiece of this celebration of Rugby.
Rugby fans will also be treated to some of the best elite men’s sevens talent in Australia going head-to-head over a three-day selection and preparation tournament, organised by Australian Men’s Sevens Head Coach Tim Walsh ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
The sevens carnival will see Australian squad players line-up against squads from the Queensland, and New South Wales sevens programs, as well as representation from an ‘Australia Pacific’ sevens team.
During the Festival, there will also be junior coaching clinics supported by the Classic Wallabies to ensure all parts of the Rugby community are engaged across the festival, which will take place from Wednesday 3 February to Saturday 6 February.
In addition, Wallabies and Queensland legend and Santos Ambassador, Tim Horan, will host a Rugby-themed Long Lunch in Narrabri - and there will be plenty of additional live entertainment across the weekend.
NSWRU CEO Paul Doorn said: “This is a fantastic event for country rugby and something we’re really excited to be a part of.
“Throughout the last two years we’ve taken games across the state, ensuring a strong connection between grassroots rugby and the Waratahs. A pre-season game, amidst many other events, in the heartland of country NSW will be a great way to start our 2021 season.
“Whilst we maintain a fierce rivalry on the field, we’re so pleased to be working with Reds on this great initiative to foster the growth of our game.”
QRU CEO David Hanham said: “We’re delighted that following the success of our Reds to Regions project during the 2020 pre-season, that our commercial partner Santos has once again stepped up to fully support the code in making this Festival of Rugby a reality.
“The Queensland Reds love taking their brand of Rugby to regional Australia and we expect there to be plenty of fans of both states there across the two days to be a part of the festivities and to watch the elite games and forms of Rugby - as we bring a new generation of players and their families to our sport to create a lifelong connection with Rugby.”
Santos Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Gallagher said Santos had long been a supporter of grassroots rugby teams and competitions across Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory.
“Events like this bring communities together, promote healthy living through sport and alleviate the social isolation that many have experienced through COVID-19 and often experience in rural and remote areas,” Mr Gallagher said.
“Bringing this event to Narrabri is all about ensuring we make a positive social contribution in the communities where we operate. These are the flow on benefits that come from a project like the Narrabri Gas Project.”