Anzac Test

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Anzac Test
2005 Anzac Test logo
SportRugby league
Inaugural season1997
Number of teams2
Countries Australia
 New Zealand
Trophy holders New Zealand (2018)
Most titles Australia (16 titles)
Broadcast partnerNine Network (Australia)
Sky Sport (New Zealand)

The Anzac Test is an annual rugby league football test match played annually between Australia and New Zealand for the Bill Kelly Memorial Trophy.

Between 1997 and 2017 the annual test was played mid season. From 2018, the test will be played in October after the NRL season has concluded.[1][2]



Australia and New Zealand had competed in Rugby League Tests since 1908. The Anzac Test, played on or around Anzac Day, was introduced by Super League (Australia) in 1997. When New Zealand was defeated 56–0 in 2000 the Australian Rugby League (ARL) was criticised for playing the match before the State of Origin series. The Test was then dropped from the annual schedule in favour of match in mid-July. In 2002 and 2003, Australia defeated Great Britain (64–10) and New Zealand (48–6) in July Test matches, so the test was revived the following year.

Naming controversy[edit]

The Anzac Test was controversial for its use of the term Anzac (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) and its perceived comparison of professional sportsmen with soldiers. However Super League donated a large sum of money to the RSL, and national RSL President Bruce Ruxton featured in commercials for the inaugural Anzac Test, proclaiming

"Mark my words, Australia is still in grave danger from one of our so-called neighbours. The Kiwis were once our allies and now they’re on the other side – at least for 80 minutes".[3]

The word Anzac is protected in Australia by The Protection of Word "ANZAC" Regulations (under the War Precautions Act Repeal Act 1920) and requires permission of the Minister for Veterans' Affairs for use in commercial events.[4] This permission was given for the event from 1997–1999.[5]

From 2004 until 2008 the match was officially called the Bundaberg Rum League Test, after the principal sponsor, Bundaberg Rum. For the 2009 fixture, the principal sponsor was Victoria Bitter and, as such, the match was officially called the VB Test.[6] Despite the official name change, it is still common for the match to be called the Anzac Test.[7] In 2016 it was sponsored by the Downer Group.[8]


Two different trophies have been awarded for the winner of this Test. For the 1997–1999 Anzac Tests, the winner was awarded the Anzac Trophy, which depicted an Australian slouch hat and New Zealand lemon squeezer hat.

Since 2004, the winner of the Bundaberg Rum League Test has been awarded the Bill Kelly Memorial Trophy.[9] This trophy was donated in 1996 by Gerald Ryan ONZM, a past president of the New Zealand Rugby League. It is named after Bill Kelly, a New Zealand rugby league player in the early 20th century.

The Bill Kelly Memorial Trophy was briefly stolen by three 25-year-old New Zealand men after Australia's victory in the 2006 Test. It was found several hours later on the awning of a nearby building.[10] The trophy currently resides at the Australian Rugby League headquarters in Sydney.[citation needed]

In 2011, the Bill Kelly Memorial Trophy was not played for in the Anzac Test, but instead in a one-off post-season test match.[citation needed]

Revival after 2008 World Cup[edit]

In 2007, the New Zealand Rugby League announced that the Anzac Test would not be contested after 2008, citing difficulties with selecting their best possible team for a match held at that time of year as a number of NZ players were based in the British and European Super League which had switched to a summer season in 1996 and clubs were reluctant to release their players for a game on the other side of the world. According to the NZRL Director of Football, Graham Lowe, "We have an obligation to play Australia in Sydney on 9 May next year, because it is their centenary test, and we will fulfil it, but that will be the last one." Although the NZRL did not think that the Anzac Tests were still a viable option, they were "optimistic an international calendar will be adopted.".[11]

After New Zealand's win in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup, the release of new RLIF world rankings, and the introduction of a new international schedule,[12] the annual mid-season test between Australia and New Zealand was revived. The 2009 fixture was played on 8 May at Brisbane's Lang Park.[7]

The 2010 Anzac Test, played on 7 May, was the first game of football at Melbourne's newly constructed AAMI Park. The 2011 Anzac Test was scheduled to be held at AMI Stadium in Christchurch on 6 May. However, the match had to be rescheduled at Skilled Park on Australia's Gold Coast due to the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. The 2012 Anzac Test was held at Eden Park, Auckland, on 20 April and was adjudicated by English Referee, Richard Silverwood. This was the first Anzac Test to be played in New Zealand since 1998.

The 2013 Test was held at the Canberra Stadium on 19 April. This marked the first time that the Australian team had played a test in Australia's capital city. The game was played in Canberra to celebrate the centenary of that city. The 2014 Anzac Test played at the Sydney Football Stadium on 2 May, saw test football return to Sydney for the first time since the 2010 Four Nations. The 2015 Anzac Test, played at Lang Park, was originally scheduled to take place on 1 May but bad weather caused the game to be postponed to 3 May. This marked the first time a rugby league Test in Australia was ever done so. The 2016 Anzac Test was played at Hunter Stadium on 6 May, the first time the match was played in Newcastle since 2004. The Kangaroos won the match 16-0.


In August 2015 the National Rugby League (NRL) announced a new $925 million (Australian) TV deal. A key component of the deal was increased provisions promoting player welfare and satisfaction, shortening the NRL regular season from 26 weeks to 25. The traditional early-May representative weekend was removed from the calendar, with the Anzac Test disbanded. Australia-New Zealand tests and other international series will be given "new priority" in a dedicated window after the NRL season. The Pacific tests were shifted to a Sunday afternoon slot, on the same day as game 2 of the State of Origin series.[13]

The final test was played on 5 May 2017 at the Canberra Stadium with the Kangaroos winning 30–12 in front of 18,535 fans, the lowest attendance in Anzac Test history.[14]

Men's Test Match Results[edit]

Australia have won all but three Anzac Tests, while New Zealand have hosted only three tests.

Year Winners Score Runner Up Venue City/Town Attendance
1997  Australia 34–22  New Zealand Sydney Football Stadium Sydney 23,829
1998  New Zealand 22–16[15]  Australia North Harbour Stadium Auckland 25,000
1999  Australia 20–14[16]  New Zealand Stadium Australia Sydney 30,245
2000  Australia 52–0  New Zealand Stadium Australia Sydney 26,023
2004  Australia 37–10  New Zealand Newcastle International Sports Centre Newcastle 21,537
2005  Australia 32–16[17]  New Zealand Brisbane Football Stadium Brisbane 40,317
2006  Australia 50–12  New Zealand Brisbane Football Stadium Brisbane 44,191
2007  Australia 30–6  New Zealand Brisbane Football Stadium Brisbane 35,241
2008  Australia 28–12  New Zealand Sydney Cricket Ground Sydney 34,571
2009  Australia 38–10  New Zealand Brisbane Football Stadium Brisbane 37,152
2010  Australia 12–8  New Zealand Melbourne Football Stadium Melbourne 29,442[18]
2011  Australia 20–10  New Zealand Gold Coast Football Stadium Gold Coast 26,301
2012  Australia 20–12  New Zealand Eden Park Auckland 35,329
2013  Australia 32–12  New Zealand Canberra Football Stadium Canberra 25,628
2014  Australia 30–18  New Zealand Sydney Football Stadium Sydney 25,429
2015  New Zealand 26–12  Australia Brisbane Football Stadium Brisbane 32,681
2016  Australia 16–0  New Zealand Newcastle International Sports Centre Newcastle 27,724
2017  Australia 30–12  New Zealand Canberra Football Stadium Canberra 18,535
2018  New Zealand 26-24  Australia Mount Smart Stadium Auckland 12,763

Overall tally[edit]

Team Wins
Flag of Australia.svg Australia1 16
Flag of New Zealand.svg New Zealand 3
  1. Includes the Australia (Super League) victory in 1997.

Women's Test Match Results[edit]

The Women's Anzac Test Match is the Women's rugby league version of the game and has been running since 2015.

Year Winners Score Runner Up Venue City/Town Attendance
2015  Australia 22-14  New Zealand Brisbane Football Stadium Brisbane
2016  New Zealand 26-16  Australia Newcastle International Sports Centre Newcastle
2017  Australia 16-4  New Zealand Canberra Football Stadium Canberra
2018  Australia 26-24  New Zealand Mt Smart Stadium Auckland

Overall tally[edit]

Team Wins
Flag of Australia.svg Australia 3
Flag of New Zealand.svg New Zealand 1

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McCann, Liam (2006). Rugby: Facts, Figures and Fun. UK: AAPPL Artists' and Photographers' Press. p. 80.
  2. ^ League of Legends: 100 Years of Rugby League in Australia (PDF). National Museum of Australia. 2008. pp. vii. ISBN 978-1-876944-64-3.
  3. ^ "NZ-Anzac". Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ "Killing Anzac". Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  6. ^ ARL Media release. "VB Test Match tickets on sale today!". Australian Rugby League. Archived from the original on 6 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
  7. ^ a b NZRL Media release. "Marshall to Captain Pirtek Kiwis in Anzac Test". League Unlimited. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
  8. ^ Downer to sponsor Test Match National Rugby League 13 April 2016
  9. ^ "Rugby League - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". ABC News Sport. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  10. ^ "Fan steals Anzac Cup". The Sydney Morning Herald. 6 May 2006.
  11. ^ Michael Brown (10 June 2007). "League: NZRL move to red card Anzac tests". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
  12. ^ "League: League: Aussies grumpy over schedule release". New Zealand Herald. 24 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
  13. ^ "Anzac test axed as part of new NRL TV deal". 8 October 2015.
  14. ^ "NRL 2017: Canberra to host final Anzac Test, Mal Meninga back international changes". Fox Sports. 13 February 2017.
  15. ^ "ANZAC Test 2014 Kiwis Media Guide" (PDF). New Zealand Rugby Leaguetitle=Queensland to host international blockbusters. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
  16. ^ Jessup, Peter (1999-04-24). "Valiant Kiwis can hold heads high in defeat". The New Zealand Herald. APN Holdings NZ Limited. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
  17. ^ "Annual Report 2005" (PDF). Australian Rugby League. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 July 2009. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  18. ^

External links[edit]