Dust off your red, black and yellow jerseys and get out your cowbells, the Chiefs are coming to Rotorua.

They will host the Jaguares, Argentina's only Super Rugby team, at Rotorua International Stadium on May 4 next year in what will be the first meeting between the two sides on Chiefs turf.

It will be the third time the Chiefs have played a regular-season game in Rotorua in the last 10 years, giving Bay of Plenty fans a rare opportunity to get out and support the side. Their last game in the city was a 32-20 win over the Bulls in front of 13,500 people in 2015, which kept their playoff hopes alive.

Events and Venues Rotorua operations and event development manager Crispian Stewart said he applied to host a Chiefs game every season.


"It's great to get one this time around, it builds on some major rugby events we've had such as the British and Irish Lions earlier this year. It's nice to keep the interest in the bigger games going with our local audience and the Chiefs is about as big as it gets this next year.

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"We got a good crowd for the Bulls in 2015, so if we can get something similar for the Jaguares that would be great. It's obviously the only one in the Bay of Plenty next season so we want to make sure it's well supported," Stewart said.

The Chiefs game is one of many events at the stadium in 2018, including the Bayleys National Sevens, a NRL trial between the Warriors and the Melbourne Storm, as well as the usual Bay of Plenty Steamers and Volcanix games and local sports tournaments.

Bay of Plenty Rugby Union chief executive Mike Rogers said it was "really positive" to have a Chiefs game in the Bay.

"I think any time the Chiefs play games in the Bay of Plenty it's a really positive outcome for rugby, but also for the wider community. As a community any time you have a high-profile event, whether it's rugby or any other event, providing those opportunities for your community is really important. It gives people an opportunity to be a part of it.

"Hopefully having events and rugby games of this level does help us inspire and encourage others to participate in sport and participate in rugby - we've certainly seen that with other events we've hosted," Rogers said.

Last time the Chiefs played in Rotorua Augustine Pulu, who now plays for the Blues, scored two tries in a 32-20 win over the Bulls. Photo / File
Last time the Chiefs played in Rotorua Augustine Pulu, who now plays for the Blues, scored two tries in a 32-20 win over the Bulls. Photo / File

He hoped to see a big crowd turn out and support the Chiefs.

"When you get a reasonable crowd in there it does create a great atmosphere. The great part of the provincial game is we have guys connected to the local community who go on to play Super Rugby. To have our Steamers guys representing the region with the Chiefs, it's always an exciting time for us as a union and for the communities and the clubs those guys are connected to throughout the Bay," he said.


The game in Rotorua is one of eight home games for the Chiefs in 2018, with the other seven to be played at FMG Stadium Waikato.

Incoming Chiefs chief executive Michael Collins said the team would face "an exciting lineup of opposition teams with a good mix of playing styles" at home venues next season, including four "action-packed New Zealand derbies".

"We are really looking forward to playing in Rotorua and are excited to connect with all our supporters around Chiefs country this coming season," Collins said.

The squad will kick off their season in Christchurch against 2017 title winners the Crusaders, before facing the Blues in Auckland. They also have a preseason encounter with the Blues when they host them in Te Kuiti for the Farmlands Rural Legends Shield preseason match on Friday, February 2.

Chiefs 2018 Home Fixtures

Farmlands Rural Legends Shield Preseason Match: Chiefs v Blues, Friday, February 2, 4pm, Rugby Park, Te Kuiti
Chiefs v Bulls, March 16, 7.35pm, FMG Stadium Waikato
Chiefs v Highlanders, March 30, 7.35pm, FMG Stadium Waikato
Chiefs v Blues, April 7, 7.35pm, FMG Stadium Waikato
Chiefs v Jaguares, May 4, 7.35pm, Rotorua International Stadium
Chiefs v Waratahs, May 26, 7.35pm, FMG Stadium Waikato
Chiefs v Crusaders, June 2, 7.35pm, FMG Stadium Waikato
Chiefs v Brumbies, July 7, 5.15pm, FMG Stadium Waikato
Chiefs v Hurricanes, July 13, 7.35pm, FMG Stadium Waikato