Aug. 25, 2015 NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The national Rugby Union of Australia, commonly known as the Wallabies, is headed to the University of Notre Dame for approximately two weeks of training in advance of the 20-nation 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
The Wallabies will arrive in South Bend Saturday (Aug. 29) and train on campus through Sept. 3 before heading to Chicago for a Sept. 5 test match versus the USA Eagles at Soldier Field. Following that event, the Australian squad will return to Notre Dame for additional training before heading to London Sept. 13.
The Wallabies will train on a grass field adjacent to Stepan Center at the north end of Notre Dame’s campus and will be using the weight room, recovery areas and training room at the Compton Family Ice Arena. The Australia team will headquarter at the Morris Inn during its stay at Notre Dame.
Notre Dame officials expect to coordinate some interactive pieces between the Wallabies and the Irish athletic staff. The Australia team will bring a support staff of therapists, doctors and strength coaches regarded as some of the most advanced in the world in the area of sports science.
“Having an organization of this caliber on our campus is an incredible opportunity to share ideas about athlete performance,” said Kevin Ricks, Notre Dame associate athletic trainer who has played a lead role in the relationship with the Australian national rugby team. “The Wallabies are leaders in applied sports science technology and their medical staff is world renowned for research and application around concussion prevention and management. We look forward to working with them during their time here at Notre Dame to enhance both of our programs.”
“As we continue to strive to maximize the athletic potential of each of our student-athletes, collaborating with world-class organizations like the Wallabies who share this aspiration delivers great mutual value to our respective sports performance teams,” said Mike Harrity, Notre Dame senior associate athletics director–student-athlete services. “Our strength and conditioning coaches, athletic trainers and nutritionists are excited to learn from and share ideas on athlete performance with the Wallabies staff and view their time on campus as the start of an ongoing synergistic relationship.”
Currently ranked third in the world behind New Zealand (the All Blacks) and Ireland in the most recent poll issued Aug. 10, the Wallabies rank as one of the favorites to claim their third Rugby World Cup.
Australia is in Pool A of Rugby World Cup preliminary action along with England, Fiji, Wales and Uruguay. The Wallabies’ pool matchups are set for Sept. 23 vs. Fiji in Cardiff, Wales; Sept. 27 vs. Uruguay in Birmingham, England; Oct. 3 vs. host England at Twickenham Stadium in London, and Oct. 10 vs. Wales, also at Twickenham in London. Quarterfinals are set for Oct. 17 and 18 (two each at Cardiff and Twickenham), semifinals for Oct. 24 and 25 (both at Twickenham) and the final for Oct. 31 (Twickenham).
Other countries competing in the Rugby World Cup are South Africa, Japan, the United States, Samoa and Scotland in Pool B; Tonga, Georgia, New Zealand, Argentina and Namibia in Pool C, and Ireland, Canada, France, Italy and Romania in Pool D. The top two teams in each pool advance to quarterfinal action.
The Wallabies own two previous Rugby World Cup titles following victories in 1991 in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France and in 1999 in Wales. Other World Cups saw Australia finish as runner-up in 2003 as the host country, advance to the semifinals in 1987 in New Zealand and Australia and in 2011 in New Zealand and to the quarterfinals in 1995 in South Africa and in 2007 in France.
The eighth version of the Rugby World Cup in 2015 follows triumphs by New Zealand in 1987 and 2011, Australia in 1991 and 1999, South Africa in 1995 and 2007 and England in 2003.
Michael Cheika is in his first year as Australia’s head coach. Among the Wallabies’ top players are flanker Michael Hooper (from the Waratahs club team), hooker and team captain Stephen Moore (Brumbies), fullback Israel Folau (Waratahs), center wing Adam Ashley-Cooper (Waratahs), fly-half Bernard Foley (Waratahs) and scrum-half Will Genia (Reds). The Australia World Cup roster consists of 31 players named Aug. 20, with 13 of those individuals competing in their first World Cup.
The Wallabies most recent competition featured a pair of Bledisloe Cup matches against the New Zealand All Blacks-with Australia winning 27-19 Aug. 8 in Sydney and then falling 41-13 Aug. 15 in Auckland. The Wallabies claimed the 2015 Rugby Championship by virtue of that victory over the All Blacks, along with wins against Argentina (34-9 on July 26) and the South African Springboks (24-20 on July 18).