The New Zealand Rugby Union have announced the All Blacks’ home schedule for this season, which includes titanic clashes against fierce rivals South Africa and Australia.
New Zealand rugby fans are in for a treat this year.
While the Women’s FIFA World Cup has created some “challenges of stadium availability” on both sides of the Tasman, the All Blacks will still play two Test matches at home this year.
Announced on Tuesday, the NZRU confirmed that the All Blacks will go head-to-head with reigning World Cup champions South Africa at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium on July 15.
The Bledisloe Cup is also set to be held in Dunedin for the first time in 2017, when Australia travel across the dich for an afternoon Test at Forsyth Barr Stadium on August 5.
With this year’s Rugby World Cup in France just around the corner, All Blacks head coach Ian Foster described the draw as “exciting but tough.”
“The Rugby Championship is an exciting but tough draw,” Foster said in a statement.
“Playing the Argentinians in Argentina is an exciting challenge after not being there since 2019.
“With the challenges of stadium availability in Australasia, we are delighted to play this huge South African Test at Mt Smart.
“We believe it’s key for the connection with our fans to have this massive game in our backyard and we can’t wait.
“The Dunedin Test is also equally important for us because it’s our last chance to play in front of our fans before we head off for an exciting Rugby World Cup.”
After a difficult start to their campaign in 2022, the All Blacks found some form towards the back end of the season.
The men in black finished their year on a seven Test unbeaten streak, which included a disappointing draw against England at Twickenham.
But these home Test matches against the Springboks and Wallabies will support the team, as they continue to prepare for this year’s World Cup.
New Zealand Rugby Head of Professional Rugby and Performance, Chris Lendrum, said the team are eager to kick off their international season.
“Although there is a shortened Rugby Championship schedule, there will no doubt be an edge to the Test matches played this year,” Lendrum said.
“The Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup remain vitally important to New Zealand Rugby.
“I know Foz (Foster) and the team are looking forward to the season kicking off as they continue to build ahead of the Rugby World Cup in September.”
The All Blacks begin their World Cup campaign in about seven months against tournament hosts France.