Rugby League: Britain bound for Olympic venue

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The Independent Online
GREAT BRITAIN will play in the newly opened Olympic stadium in Sydney when they head south to tackle Australia and New Zealand next autumn.

Stadium Australia, now taking shape at Homebush in the city's western suburbs, will host the final of the Tri-Nation series. Even if Britain fail to qualify for that - a possibility on current form - they will play one of the Oceania nations as part of a double-header that day, 5 November.

Before that, Britain will meet Australia in Brisbane and New Zealand in Auckland. The free team at each of those matches will play the extra team, to be decided between the likes of Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga and Western Samoa by qualifying matches earlier next year.

Louis Luyt, the former president of the South African Rugby Union, is pressing for regular international events at Ellis Park in Johannesburg and is keen to stage the World Nines there.

A decision has yet to be be made, however, on whether that tournament should be revived next year or in 2000.

France have offered to stage one of the qualifying groups for the World Cup, scheduled for Britain in 2000. A decision is expected today on whether to stage a 14-team tournament or to extend it to 16 by adding Russia and Italy.

A date has yet to be reached for a World Club Championship decider between Wigan and Brisbane next year. Wigan, who want to avoid the match falling between two rounds of the Challenge Cup, have suggested 6 February at Bolton, but the Broncos want to play on 19 February.