Wallabies to welcome England

Australia will host world champions England in Sydney in the first Test of their 2006 season. [more]

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Australia will host world champions England in Sydney in the first Test of their 2006 season.

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) released its schedule for next year, which includes an expanded Tri-Nations series with New Zealand and South Africa that will see the sides play each other three times for the first time since 1998.

The Wallabies will also try to reclaim four pieces of silverware in 2006, including the Bledisloe Cup, Tri-Nations trophy, Mandela Plate, and the Cook Cup, which they will contest with England in their first Test of the season on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in Australia.

The ARU is considering playing the Test on the Sunday June 11, while the second match will be played in Melbourne the following weekend.

Australia will play the Lansdowne Cup Test against Ireland in Perth on June 24, before the inaugural nine-match Tri-Nations series begins in Christchurch on July 8 with the first of three Bledisloe Cup Tests.

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The Wallabies will host the Springboks in Brisbane on July 15, followed by the second match against New Zealand in the Queensland capital on July 29.

Australia will host the Springboks again on August 5 in Sydney, and two weeks later the deciding Bledisloe Cup Test will be played in Auckland on either a Friday or Saturday night.

The final three Tri-Nations Tests will be played in South Africa, including the Wallabies third Test against the Springboks on September 9.

ARU chief executive Gary Flowers believes 2006 will be a bumper year for rugby fans.

"We have an action-packed Test schedule in 2006 against the world’s top teams."

"Rugby fans will see the Wallabies play nine Tests in total, including a total of six Tests in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth."

Meanwhile, New Zealand will begin their season with matches against Ireland on June 10 and 17 and will then fly to Argentina for a Test with the South Americans in Buenos Aires a week later.

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