Swans to play St Kilda Saints in New Zealand on ANZAC Day
The Sydney Swans will play in the AFL’s first international home-and-away match on ANZAC Day next season when they take on St Kilda in Wellington, New Zealand.
THE Sydney Swans will play in the AFL’s first international home-and-away match on ANZAC Day next season.
The Swans will take on St Kilda in Wellington, New Zealand, as part of the Saints’ new agreement with the AFL and the Wellington City Council, which will see St Kilda host five games over the next three years in New Zealand.
“From the outset, the Wellington City Council has shared our vision and can see the unique opportunities this partnership presents for all parties,” said St Kilda chief executive officer Michael Nettlefold.
Sydney Swans Chief Executive Andrew Ireland said the Club was excited to be part of the first international AFL game played for premiership points.
“This will be a historic match for the AFL competition and it is exciting that the Club can be a part of it,” Mr Ireland said.
“Never before has a premiership season match been played overseas, so this is a really unique opportunity.
“ANZAC Day is a hugely significant day for both Australia and New Zealand, and to be playing Australia’s game on New Zealand soil will be a great tribute.”
With the club already boasting strong links internationally, Mr Ireland said next year’s game would be another opportunity to extend the reach of our great game.
“As a Club we have always been open to the AFL reaching out beyond Australia’s shores,” he said.
“At times this year, our forward line has comprised Irishman Tommy Walsh standing alongside Canadian Mike Pyke.
“A premiership match in New Zealand is another great opportunity to promote the game, and our Club, to a new audience.”
The Wellington clash between the Swans and the Saints will be broadcast into Australia following the traditional Collingwood v Essendon ANZAC Day match played in Melbourne.
The match will be played at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium, a world-class venue which has played host to international rugby, soccer and cricket.
AFL chief operating officer Gillon McLachlan said the 34,000-capacity stadium could be packed out for the historic match, and said the league had hopes that one day a standalone New Zealand team would be a part of the AFL.
“I’m going to put it out there, we’ll sell that game out. It will be an incredible event broadcast live back into Australia celebrating shared cultures and values with a great product where sports-mad New Zealanders with Australians who like to travel will be having a great day,” McLachlan told AFL.com.au.
“Where that goes, I don’t know. Whether it’s a team in 10 years, I’d love to think it was.”
From an AFL match perspective, the Westpac Stadium playing surface is 152 metres goal to goal, which is slightly longer than the SCG, and is as wide as Etihad Stadium.
The last time the Swans played outside of Australia was in a pre-season match in Los Angeles against North Melbourne in 2006.