Allianz Stadium – Anzac Day Cup

by | May 15, 2018 | Lloyd Rothwell, NRL |

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Anzac Day Cup – St George Illawarra Dragons vs Sydney Roosters

Anzac Day, April 25th, is a solemn day of remembrance for Australians and New Zealanders in honour of all those who have served our countries in times of conflict and on peacekeeping missions. Anzac Day is always commemorated on the same date, as it was on the morning of 25 April in 1915 that Australian and New Zealand forces landed on the shores of Gallipoli to battle the formidable Turkish forces, signalling the entry of our countries into World War I – the first such engagement for Australia since federation in 1901. For many, the day is filled with dawn services, marches to honour our troops, and the inevitable game of “two-up” in pubs and clubs across the country.

In more recent history, the various codes of football in Australia and New Zealand have scheduled fixtures specifically to mark Anzac Day. In rugby league (NRL), the annual clash played on April 25th every year since 2002 is between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Sydney Roosters, always held at Allianz Stadium at Moore Park. The Dragons and Roosters alternate as the home team, even though Allianz Stadium is the Roosters home ground. The stadium opened in 1988 as the Sydney Football Stadium (SFS) and was the premiere venue for rugby league, rugby union, and soccer until ANZ Stadium was built at Olympic Park in 1999. As well as hosting the Roosters, the NSW Waratahs (Super Rugby) and Sydney FC (A-League) are also major tenants.

Following several years of speculation and heavy politicking, in November 2017 the NSW state government announced Allianz Stadium would be closed for demolition after the 2018 football season. A replacement stadium will be built on the site with a scheduled opening of 2021. In the interim, the Anzac Day Cup will shift next door to the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

The Dragons are the result of a merger between two clubs; St George, located in the south of Sydney, and Illawarra, on the south coast. St George were one of rugby league’s most successful clubs, having won an almost unbelievable 11 premierships in a row between 1956 and 1966. The Roosters are a foundation club, having been formed in 1908 as Eastern Suburbs. Their geographical heartland is around the Sydney CBD and Bondi area.

Food & Beverage   3

One of the biggest negatives of a visit to Allianz Stadium is the concessions; expect average quality, long queues, and high prices. While they have tried to expand the offerings in recent years, the stadium is simply not equipped to be able to serve high-quality, boutique items. Staple items available include hot dogs ($6.60), meat pies ($6.20), sausage rolls ($5.20), and hot chips ($6.60). Basic combo meal deals for these items are just over $16. For those who are a little hungrier there are burgers, chicken strips, and fish and chips, all of which cost around $15. Drinks are also expensive with beer, wine, and cider all around $9. Soft drinks are $6.40 and water $5.30. Hard to believe, but a carry tray for your drinks is now up to $1.50, which sadly is a common occurrence at many stadiums these days.

Atmosphere   5

Allianz Stadium has several obvious design flaws; access is not great, the roof offers little in the way of protection from the weather, there’s limited facilities for corporates and media, and the amenities are poor. While the aforementioned list needs to be addressed in order to truly offer a modern, premium fan experience, the venue still meets the number criteria in a sports stadium in that there is barely a bad seat in the house. As the primary venue for football in Sydney for over a decade, the SFS has hosted many memorable events including rugby league Grand Finals and State of Origin, rugby internationals (including RWC 2003), and soccer internationals (including World Cup qualifiers and the Summer Olympics in 2000).

The Anzac Day Cup features an extensive pre-game ceremony to honour those who have served, past and present. You should aim to be seated around one hour prior to the first bounce to ensure you catch all the pre-match activities. Once the two teams are on the field, the Ode of Remembrance is recited, and a flag ceremony includes playing of the Last Post. It’s a moving experience and one that is respected by the clear majority of the crowd, and is one of the more moving moments you’ll likely experience at a sporting event.

Neighborhood   4

In years gone by crowds would flock to the Moore Precinct via one of the many pubs en route from Central Railway Station. This seems to be less the norm these days, and while there are still some local attractions, it’s more worthwhile to mention the proximity of the CBD and all that a global city can offer. Those visiting from out of town should allow several days at a minimum to tick off the major attractions, such as the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House, and Bondi Beach. The closest restaurants and bars are in the Entertainment Quarter, which is on the southern side of the SCG, with the Bavarian Bier Café (Entertainment Quarter, 212 Bent St Moore Park) and PJ Gallagher’s Irish Pub (Entertainment Quarter, 216 1/2 Bent St Moore Park) popular choices. Those keen to venture slightly further afield would be well served by exploring Paddington, Coogee, The Rocks, and Kings Cross.

Given the day, those particularly keen to commemorate the occasion could start the day with the Dawn Service at the Cenotaph in Martin Place at 4:15am. After refreshments in nearby city pubs, you can then watch the Annual Anzac Day March of veterans and their descendants from 9:00am which travels from Martin Place down Elizabeth Street and finishes at Hyde Park at 12:30pm. After the march make your way to the Light Brigade Hotel (Cnr Oxford St and Jersey Rd) in Woollarha for a traditional game of “two-up,” before heading to Moore Park for the match.

Fans   5

The Anzac Day Cup brings fans of both clubs out in droves, with large crowds of 35,000 plus each year. It’s a family friendly atmosphere, as the fans are mostly in good spirits and well behaved.

Access   3

Allianz Stadium is located just south of the Sydney CBD with access by bus or car. The closest heavy rail station is at Central, a 20-minute walk away, although be warned it is uphill most of the way, and so is not recommended for less mobile fans. In future years, there will be light rail linking Central to Moore Park. If you are driving, however, there are several options for parking, including the parklands opposite the stadium, the Entertainment Quarter (enter via Lang Rd), and the Sydney Boys / Girls High Schools (enter via Cleveland St), all of which will charge around $25.

Entry to Allianz Stadium itself is via a pedestrian plaza leading up from Driver Ave. Concourses around both the exterior and interior of the stadium are narrow and generally regarded as sub-standard, particularly when a large crowd is in attendance. Allianz Stadium also has limited facilities for disabled patrons, and restrooms are well-used, and short in supply for female fans.

Return on Investment   4

Adult tickets are roughly priced between $30 and $60, which is about average for NRL. Despite drawing large crowds, tickets seem to be readily available even in the last few days leading up the game. While it is not a cheap experience, and by no means is it a perfect stadium, if you cut some corners with food and travel, the Anzac Day Cup is still a worthwhile event that offers decent value.

Extras   5

The NRL connection with Anzac Day is strong and delivered well, with a growing tradition that continues to improve and delivers many extras that add to the experience. Allianz Stadium also offers free wi-fi, and there are some fan activation and giveaways along the entry plaza.

Final Thoughts

Fans of the Dragons and Roosters must attend this match at least once, without exception. However, it will also be a memorable experience for those who attend without having an invested interest in the result.

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Food and Drink Recommendations

Bavarian Bier Café

Entertainment Quarter, 212 Bent St

Moore Park NSW

Australia

(02) 9259 5680

https://www.facebook.com/BavarianBierCafe/


PJ Gallagher’s Irish Pub

Entertainment Quarter, 216/1 Bent St

Moore Park NSW

Australia

(02) 8488 2350

http://pjseq.com.au/downloads/EQ_Menu_Web.pdf


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Entertainment Recommendations

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney NSW

Australia


Sydney Opera House

Bennelong Point

Sydney NSW

Australia

https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/


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Lodging Recommendations

 

The Light Brigade

Oxford St & Jersey Rd

Woollahra NSW

Australia

(02) 9357 0888

http://lightbrigade.com.au/


 

Ovolo Woolloomooloo

6 Cowper Wharf Roadway

Woolloomooloo NSW

Australia

61 2 9331 9000

https://www.ovolohotels.com.au/ovolowoolloomooloo/


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Stadium Info

Allianz Stadium
Driver Avenue
Moore Park, NSW 2021
Australia

Anzac Day Cup website

Allianz Stadium website

Year Opened: 1988

Capacity: 44,000

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