Denver could stage Bledisloe Cup

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The Independent Online

Australia and New Zealand are in talks about staging Bledisloe Cup Test matches in Denver and Tokyo over the next two years.

The southern hemisphere giants clash in Hong Kong tomorrow - their first ever Bledisloe Cup meeting on neutral soil - with the game set to be a sell-out and a catalyst for wider global expansion.

Australian Rugby Union chief executive John O'Neill and New Zealand counterpart Steve Tew will meet while in Hong Kong to discuss the prospect of taking next year's game to the United States.

"We have several opportunities in front of us for 2009 and 2010," said Tew.

"The Denver game has been mentioned. It is fair to say that both Australia and New Zealand will look to explore that further. We will have discussions on that this week."

The Hong Kong fixture is raising over £5million in revenue and New Zealand are believed to be earning around double what they have been paid to play England at Twickenham on November 29.

But Tew and O'Neill stressed their shared desire to take the game to new audiences is also about growing the game, with Asia and America seen as key territories.

"The revenue from this fixture is attractive and it has certainly helped us in a challenging year," said Tew.

"But this match is part of a longer-term strategy, and one we hope the IRB share with us, that rugby to be truly global will need to gain some real following in Asia, north America and eastern Europe.

"This match is part of that loosely-formed strategy. Everyone is conscious Japan are working hard on a bid for the World Cup.

"Who knows? We have not dismissed the possibility of being back in Hong Kong or playing a similar match in Japan at some stage."

Tew would not consider moving a Tri-Nations Test onto neutral soil and he is aware that New Zealand are already playing 11 Test matches this year.

"We don't want to play an endless number of games," Tew added.

"But the game doesn't grow overnight. We have to put our money where our mouth is and play some games."

New Zealand retained the Bledisloe Cup in September with victory in Brisbane which gave them a 2-1 lead in the four-match series.