Rugby League: Non-traditional Ashes: Attendance record targeted for Tests

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The Independent Online
THIS autumn's Ashes series against Australia is again steering clear of the game's traditional venues, with Tests at Wembley, Old Trafford and Elland Road.

The series will open at Wembley on 22 October, with Tests at Manchester on 5 November and Leeds on 20 November.

The first two Tests follow the recent pattern by being played on Saturdays; the third is on a Sunday because of the BBC's commitment to a rugby union international.

There will be no domestic games played on the weekends of the first and third Tests and the League has set itself a target of beating the record aggregate attendance for a series - the 133,684 set when Australia last visited in 1990.

The rest of the itinerary for the tour will be decided over the weekend of the World Sevens in Sydney next month. A match against Wales and the possibility of playing another game outside the traditional areas are likely to come under discussion.

The Great Britain squad for the Sevens on 4 to 6 February is to be named today. After the fiasco of last year, when both the holders, Wigan, and Wales pulled out after protracted arguments over the composition of their teams, the League hopes to avoid controversy this time by choosing a squad with no more than two players from any one club.

The British Amateur Rugby League Association is making a four-match tour of South Africa - another country which benefited from taking part in the Sevens last year - in March. An Under-23 side will play Western Province, Transvaal and Northern Transvaal before meeting South Africa in Johannesburg on 11 March.