Poor showing could knock Super15 team bid

Melbourne will get another chance to show that they are worthy of hosting a Super 15 team but by the time they get that chance they will probably have already been awarded the franchise.

SANZAR is expected to announce the location of the 15th team when Super Rugby expands from a Super 14 to a Super 15 later this year but in 2010 Melbourne will host a Bledisloe Cup Test featuring the crowd-pulling All Blacks.

The Australian Rugby Union was disappointed with the 20,280 crowd which only just filled a third of Etihad Stadium on Saturday when an experimental Wallabies team hosted the Italians in the second of a two test series.

The Victorian Rugby Union are thought to be leading the race to gain a Super 15 license for an expanded competition in 2011 but the viewer numbers hardly helped their cause.

The ARU have however admitted that there were were reasons for the low crowd which was down on the 26,000 that watched the 2005 Australia-Italy Test at the same venue – and felt it too early to judge whether it would have a detrimental affect on the VRU’s Super Rugby bid.

The last time the All Blacks played rugby in Victoria almost 80 000 turned up to watch the Wallabies upset them at the MCG in 2007.

2010’s Bledisloe Cup match could be played at either the MCG or Etihad Stadium as authorities have to yet to decide on the venue.

On top of the fact the world No.12-ranked Italians were never set to capture the public’s imagination, an ARU spokesman said ticket sales had suffered through several “mitigating factors”.

“The Test match was originally to be held at Melbourne’s new rectangular stadium, which is not yet completed,” he told AAP.

“There was also the challenge with the timing given there were two major international sporting events in Melbourne within three days (with the Socceroos match against Japan).

“Health precautions may have also kept away a number of interstate visitors.”

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