The Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) today announced a two-match series between a Queensland Reds Development Team and a Queensland Chairman’s XV to provide new development opportunities for Queensland’s elite non-contract players .
The Queensland Rugby Challenger Series, to be held at clubs in October, will see contracted Reds players take on the best of the StoreLocal Hospital Cup competition, with the series culminating in a tour of Japan.
Queensland will face sister state club Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights on November 4, with places in the traveling squad on offer after both matches.
Reds Chief Professional Rugby Officer Sam Cordingley said: “As a club, we are delighted to travel to Japan and play our Japanese partner, the Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights, as part of our preparations for 2023. .
“It’s unfortunate that we had to postpone last year’s game due to COVID-19, but we thank the Wild Knights for their continued support so this historic game can still take place.
“Just as Queensland teams did in the 70s and 80s – the Reds will be touring off-season again, with our time in Japan set to provide a valuable development opportunity for our team and Queensland’s best developing players. ahead of next year’s Super Rugby Pacific season.
“Given the importance and history surrounding the event, it will be a capped game which will provide a number of top Queensland amateur players with the opportunity to receive a Queensland Reds cap and number.”
Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights General Manager, Hitoshi Iijima said, “We are very happy to have a world-class rugby team, the Queensland Reds, from Queensland Australia, a sister city in Saitama Prefecture, at the stadium. Kumagaya rugby team to play this match.
“We would like to deeply thank the Queensland Reds, for making the decision to travel to Japan despite the Covid-19 pandemic. We also express our deepest gratitude to Saitama Prefecture, Kumagaya City and everyone involved. for their support and cooperation.
“We hope this game will not only lead to the growth of the Wild Knights, but also to greater friendship between the two cities and the development of rugby in Japan.”
The Queensland Rugby Challenger Series is intended to provide future Super Rugby players with the opportunity to test their abilities at an intermediate level between club and professional rugby.
The series will also be used to test several variations of the law to increase ball playing time and improve the spectacle for fans.
In a throwback to the amateur era, the teams will reunite after each match, with speeches from captains and coaches, and thanks to match officials and match players.
Staff will also have the opportunity to test themselves at the top level, with the president’s XV set to be chosen solely from the Hospital Cup talent pool on and off the pitch.
Reds Super W head coach Simon Craig (Easts) will lead the chairman’s XV coaching staff, supported by Elwee Prinsloo (Wests) and Elton Berrange (UQ).
Cordingley said: “The Queensland Rugby Challenger Series will further strengthen our connection between amateur and professional games in Queensland.
“We have had a development gap with other rugby nations for too long. These matches will give the Reds squad more playing time together while also giving our best Queensland amateur players and coaches the opportunity to grow. involved in representative rugby.
“This series will provide a platform for innovation, which was difficult to test during Super Rugby, as well as bringing back some of the points of difference that our great game has.
“The Challenger Series and the Japan Tour are a starting point that we will aim to develop in the years to come.”
The President’s XV team will be selected following the QPR Finals Series, with the StoreLocal Hospital Cup Grand Final taking place at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday 18th September.
The ensuing tour game against the Wild Knights will be the teams’ inaugural game following the announcement of their bilateral alliance partnership in 2020.
The connection between the two teams will be further highlighted on the tour when the Reds and Wild Knights celebrate the 30th anniversary of their first game against each other in Saitama Prefecture. The teams will play for the Saitama-Queensland Shield, named in honor of the relationship between the two sister states.
In 1991, a Queensland tour team led by Michael Lynagh which included names like Tim Horan, Jason Little, John Eales, Brendan Nasser (father of current Reds frontrower Josh), as well as Paul Carozza (current manager of the Reds Academy talent identification) and their physiotherapist. Cameron Lillicrap (current Reds assistant manager) faced a Saitama XV side which included Wild Knights general manager Hitoshi Iijima.
The Queensland Reds and the Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights will continue to work together proactively to promote and contribute to the development of every team and region in Queensland and Saitama Prefecture before and after the historic game in November.
As a result, Panasonic has moved its headquarters to Saitama Prefecture, located in the Greater Tokyo Area, which shares a sister state relationship with Queensland.
Saitama Prefecture was Queensland’s first sister-state relationship formed in 1984 and remains one of the most active of the many still operating between the two countries.