Sports fans in Halifax will be marking their calendars for July 11, 2020.
Sports & Entertainment Atlantic presented a high-profile rugby match to the special events advisory committee Monday morning, their first meeting of the year at Halifax City Hall. The production company hopes to receive $25,000 in funding from the municipality.
“We are absolutely delighted to be bringing Italy’s national men’s team to Halifax to play at Wanderers Grounds,” Chris Larsen, Sports & Entertainment Atlantic president, said during the presentation.
“Rugby, particularly international rugby, has proven to be a very popular event so our expected attendance is 6,000.”
Halifax last hosted men’s international rugby two years ago. On June 23, 2018, Canada was defeated by the United States 42-17 at Wanderers Grounds. According to ESPN, attendance for that game was 6,000.
“I attended that USA – team Canada game, it was phenomenal, the town was buzzing and the quality of play is outstanding,” Harbourview-Burnside-Dartmouth East Coun. Tony Mancini said after the presentation.
Larsen said that event was a factor in having B.C.-based Rugby Canada return to Halifax.
“There was some rather intense competition from other communities around the country to try to land this event,” Larsen said.
“I think it’s the success we’ve had with international rugby at Wanderers, I think it’s the success our organization has had working with Rugby Canada. The way the teams have been greeted and welcomed into this community is why they want to come back.”
Italy is ranked as the 12th best men’s national rugby team according to World Rugby, the sport’s governing body. Canada is currently ranked 22nd.
The last time the two teams faced each other was in September during the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. Italy beat Canada in the group stage of the tournament, 48-7. Neither team advanced to the knockout rounds.
“The rugby opportunity is A-1, it is something that anywhere in the country would be, I think, envious of,” committee member Ken Bagnell said following the presentation.“The more of those the better.”
The special events advisory committee’s role is to provide grant funding recommendations to Halifax regional council for large-scale events that promote development and tourism.
Sports & Entertainment Atlantic’s proposal will be scored on a points system and staff will then produce a report.
Staff hopes to have that report ready in March. It will then be presented to the special events advisory committee and regional council. Funding granted by regional council will be conditional on budget approval, which is scheduled for April 1, 2020.
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