Anzac Test

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Anzac Test
2005 Anzac Test logo
Sport Rugby league
Inaugural season 1997
Number of teams 2
Countries  Australia
 New Zealand
Trophy holders  Australia (2016)
Most titles  Australia (15 titles)
Broadcast partner Nine Network (Australia)
Sky Sport (New Zealand)

The Anzac Test is an annual rugby league football test match (known as the Bundaberg Rum Test from 2004–2008 and the VB Test in 2009 for sponsorship reasons). Inaugurated in 1997,[1] the test is played annually between Australia and New Zealand on or around Anzac Day for the Bill Kelly Memorial Trophy.[2]

In August 2015 the NRL made a new $925 million (Australian) TV deal. One major incentive of the deal was for player welfare and satisfaction and therefore the deal revealed that the NRL regular season would now be played over 25 rounds, not 26. The week taken off of this new deal was the representative weekend and, although the Pacific tests still remain (which have been shifted to play on a Sunday on the same day as game 2 of the State of Origin series), the Anzac test has been removed from the NRL calendar with the deal revealing that the International game will be given "a new priority" in a dedicated window after the NRL Premiership season.[3] The Anzac test will still be played until 2018 when the new TV deal comes into play.



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 Bundaberg Rum Test (as it became known for sponsorship reasons) 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 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".[4]

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.[5] This permission was given for the event from 1997–1999.[6]

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.[7] Despite the official name change, it is still common for the match to be called the Anzac Test.[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]

Demise and Reconception[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. 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 Suncorp Stadium.[8]

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 Suncorp Stadium, 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.


Australia have won all but two Anzac Tests.

Year Winners Score Runner Up Venue Attendance
1997  Australia 34-22  New Zealand Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney 23,829
1998  New Zealand 22–16[13]  Australia North Harbour Stadium, Auckland 25,000
1999  Australia 20–14[14]  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[15]  New Zealand Lang Park, Brisbane 40,317
2006  Australia 50-12  New Zealand Lang Park, Brisbane 44,191
2007  Australia 30-6  New Zealand Lang Park, Brisbane 35,241
2008  Australia 28-12  New Zealand Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney 34,571
2009  Australia 38-10  New Zealand Lang Park, Brisbane 37,152
2010  Australia 12-8  New Zealand Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne 29,442[16]
2011  Australia 20-10  New Zealand Robina Stadium, Gold Coast 26,301
2012  Australia 20-12  New Zealand Eden Park, Auckland 35,329
2013  Australia 32-12  New Zealand Canberra Stadium, Canberra 25,628
2014  Australia 30-18  New Zealand Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney 25,429
2015  New Zealand 26-12  Australia Lang Park, Brisbane 32,681
2016  Australia 16-0  New Zealand Hunter Stadium, Newcastle 27,724
2017 GIO Stadium, Canberra

Overall tally[edit]

Team Wins
Flag of Australia.svg Australia1 15
Flag of New Zealand.svg New Zealand 2
  1. Includes the Australia (Super League) victory in 1997.

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. ^ "Anzac test axed as part of new NRL TV deal". 2015-08-10. Retrieved 2015-08-21. 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ [3]
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ a b NZRL Media release. "Marshall to Captain Pirtek Kiwis in Anzac Test". League Unlimited. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  9. ^ pictured here
  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 2014 Kiwis Media Guide" (PDF). New Zealand Rugby Leaguetitle=Queensland to host international blockbusters. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ Annual Report 2005 Archived 5 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine. – Australian Rugby League
  16. ^

External links[edit]