Australian Rugby Union chief executive John O’Neill has said the fourth Bledisloe Cup Test against New Zealand will go ahead in Hong Kong next month despite sluggish ticket sales, reports said on Thursday.
The statement came after doubts were expressed that the Hong Kong Test would be played or would perhaps be moved to London’s Twickenham stadium because of below expectation ticket sales.
But O’Neill said there were no plans to cancel the Test, which is scheduled to be played at the Hong Kong International Stadium on October 30.
“It’s fair to say that ticket sales have not been as we had hoped,” O’Neill told newspapers.
“A number of reasons for that. We will be having some deep and meaningful conversations with the Hong Kong Rugby Union in the next 48 hours.
“There are no plans to cancel the match. We have to find ways and means of getting ticket sales back to what they should be.”
The ARU chief said arrangements around next month’s Test were different from what they were when the last Bledisloe Cup Test was staged in Hong Kong two years ago.
“We have left a lot of the organisation to the HKRU for which they are getting paid a fee,” he said.
“It’s fair to say we need to be more hands-on and work very hard to make sure that it is a success, but we can’t gild the lily, ticket sales are off the pace with a couple of months to go.
“We’ll do whatever we have to do to make sure it works.”
The Wallabies and the All Blacks have played each other in Hong Kong and Tokyo over the last two years to generate income and try to develop the game in Asia.
O’Neill said that Hong Kong would mark the last time the Wallabies and the All Blacks played four Bledisloe Cup Tests in the one year and they were not looking to take any future Tests offshore.
“Regardless of the challenges we have had in Hong Kong this year, the days of four Bledisloe Tests are over,” he said.
The Wallabies and the All Blacks play their final Tri-Nations Test of the season in Sydney on Saturday, with New Zealand having already secured the trans-Tasman Cup after winning the two earlier matches of the series.