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National Stadium to host historic Scotland-Italy rugby Test in June

SINGAPORE — Rugby fans in Singapore could get to see a historic international Test match played at the National Stadium in two months’ time.

SINGAPORE — Rugby fans in Singapore could get to see a historic international Test match played at the National Stadium in two months’ time.

TODAY understands that Scotland and Italy are set to face each other here on June 10. The Test between the two Six Nations members is made possible by the fact both are stopping over in Singapore en route to Fiji and Australia for a series of matches.

Scotland play the Wallabies on June 17 and Fiji a week later, while the Italians will fly from Singapore to Fiji to take on the Pacific Islanders before playing Australia a week later in Brisbane on June 24.

In response to TODAY’s queries, Chin Sau Ho, the Singapore Sports Hub’s senior director for communications and stakeholder management, said: “While we don’t comment on speculation, we are always open to, and welcome, the opportunity for collaboration with event owners and promoters to present a variety of quality events to our patrons.”

However, TODAY understands that the date has already been pencilled in, and that organisers are now tying up commercial arrangements and are awaiting endorsement from world governing body World Rugby for the proposed fixture. They are also in discussions with the Sports Hub over the costs of organising the Test.

If the Test between the two 2015 Rugby World Cup (RWC) teams materialises, it will create several milestones for the National Stadium. For starters, it will be the first international Test to be held at the Kallang venue in 19 years. The last time an international Test was held at the National Stadium was when Singapore hosted the 1998 Asian Rugby Championships, which also doubled as the Asian qualifiers for the 1999 RWC.

The two-tier Championships were held at the old National Stadium and featured Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea in the Division One competition, while Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka and China vied for the Division Two crown.

The Scotland-Italy Test will also mark the first time two northern hemisphere countries are playing each other here. England played at the Jalan Besar Stadium in 1971 but the game was not a Test, as the Singapore side they faced was a mix of expatriates and just three local players - Leow Kim Liat, John Koh and How Wai Chew.

France also played at Jalan Besar in 1984, when they stopped here after their tour of New Zealand. They took on a Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) President’s XV, which featured players from the New Zealand Armed Forces who were based here, some expatriates and only two Singaporeans — Song Koon Poh and David Quek — and won 86-35.

Since the new 55,000-seater National Stadium was opened in June 2014, it has hosted the World Club 10s and the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens. Since last year, Japanese Super Rugby franchise the Sunwolves have also been playing three matches here each season.

However, the closest the venue came to staging a top-level international game was the planned match between the Maori All Blacks and the Asian Pacific Dragons. The game was supposed to be held in October 2014 but was cancelled by New Zealand Rugby because of the poor pitch conditions then.

The last time Scotland and Italy met was in the Six Nations on March 18. Scotland won 29-0 to finish with fourth with three wins and two defeats, while Italy finished last with five losses.

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