Council secures Giant AFL coup for Wagga Wagga

The biggest and most anticipated AFL pre-season match featuring last season’s grand finalists GWS Giants and Richmond will be played at Robertson Oval in Wagga Wagga next year.

And in an unprecedented sporting coup for the city, both clubs’ AFLW teams will play a competition twilight fixture at the same venue a day earlier, kicking off a weekend double header set to attract thousands of supporters to Wagga Wagga.

Wagga Wagga City Council and AFL NSW-ACT have confirmed the weekend AFL bonanza will be played on Saturday and Sunday, 7 and 8 March, and is expected to feature several players with local connections from both clubs.

“This is a huge announcement for our city and indeed the entire region,” Mayor of the City of Wagga Wagga Councillor Greg Conkey said.

“Having both clubs’ women’s teams here for an AFLW competition match means we are hosting an historic double header weekend of top class Australian football.

“The grand final rematch is the game everyone could only hope for … and I’m glad to say our city has secured the biggest game of the 2020 pre-season.

“Riverina sports fans of all codes will recognise the importance of being able to host these two elite clubs in a regional city.”

Cr Conkey said the support for both AFL clubs is strong and will ensure a large crowd gathers in Wagga for the Marsh Community Series fixture (men) and the AFLW competition game.

“There is a strong connection between the Giants and the Riverina,” Cr Conkey said.

“A number of players learnt the game in the Riverina and have strong family connections.

“The membership of Richmond is more than 100,000 – their following and popularity has exploded in recent years alongside their premiership success. I’m sure we will see members of the Tiger Army right here in Wagga.”

One of those players who grew up in the area and played in Wagga is Giants defender Harry Perryman.

Perryman was back in Wagga for the announcement and said he can’t wait to return to an old Riverina stamping ground with his Giants team-mates.

“We’ll be keen. I can’t wait to get back out on Robbo in front of a local crowd … it’s a great event for the whole area,” Perryman said.

“We’ve got a bit to prove against the Tigers. It’ll be pre-season but it’s our first look at them since the grand final.”

Council agreed at its 23 September Ordinary Meeting to negotiate with AFL NSW/ACT around a two-year community partnership which also includes the NSW AFL Hall of Fame dinner being hosted in the city in 2021, facility development, multicultural programs and talent carnivals.

The inaugural NSW Australian Football Hall of Fame event will be held in Sydney in 2020. As part of this community partnership agreement, it is proposed the dinner will be hosted in Wagga in 2021.

The AFL will also contribute $100,000 to the development of the new amenities block at Bolton Park as part of the package negotiated with Council.

The last AFL match played in Wagga was a pre-season fixture between Collingwood and North Melbourne at Robertson Oval in March 2016.

CAPTION: Wagga Wagga Mayor Cr Greg Conkey OAM and AFL NSW-ACT Game Development Manager-Soiuthern NSW Marc Geppert with GWS Giants’ defender Harry Perryman at the announcement of an AFL double header next year between the Giants and Richmond’s men’s and women’s teams.

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