New Zealand Irish tour schedule finalized
Ireland’s five-game schedule for this summer’s tour of New Zealand has been finalized with the NZRU confirming two midweek fixtures against the Māori All Blacks.
The centerpiece remains the three-Test series between Andy Farrell’s Triple Crown winners and the All Blacks, which begins in Auckland at Eden Park on Saturday July 2. Further clashes are scheduled for the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin seven days later before the final encounter at Sky Stadium in Wellington on July 16.
Ireland take on the Māori All Blacks ahead of the first and third Tests, kicking off their tour at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton on Wednesday June 29 (8.05am Irish time) while the second match is between the second and final Tests at Sky Stadium in Wellington on Tuesday July 12 (8:05 am Irish time).
Farrell was keen to have the extra games in order to give crucial experience to his wider squad a year away from the 2023 World Cup in France and he is expected to announce a traveling squad of more than 40 players for the five-game tour next month . .
“The Māori All Blacks will provide a stern test of the strength and depth of our squad,” Farrell said in a press release announcing the two midweek encounters.
“They are indeed a test match team with a proud tradition and an impressive record of results.
“This tour is a huge opportunity for the band to grow and compete against the best in their own backyard. To play five games against such quality opposition will be of huge benefit to the band as we tour for the first time since 2018.”
Ireland have only faced the Māori All Blacks twice before, losing both times. In 1888, the New Zealand Natives won 13-4 at Lansdowne Road while the Māori All Blacks edged Declan Kidney’s Tourists in 2010 31-28 at Rotorua International Stadium.
The last European team to face the Māori All Blacks was a British and Irish Lions team managed by Peter O’Mahony in 2017.
The Tourists, who also started with Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton at half-back, Tadhg Furlong and Sean O’Brien in the attacking squad and Iain Henderson and Jack McGrath among the substitutes, lost 32-17 winners against a team with James Lowe. in back.
Lowe had played the previous November in a tour side beaten 27-14 by Munster at Thomond Park.
Commenting on upcoming matches with Ireland, Māori All Blacks head coach Clayton McMillan said: “We look forward to welcoming Ireland, their players, management and fans to Aotearoa, to share our respective cultures and to celebrate our rich histories through rugby.
“Our rivalry goes back over 100 years and this will only add to the opportunity. To face the world’s fourth-ranked team in a two-game series is an exciting prospect and we expect both games be huge challenges.
All kick-offs at 8.05 am Irish time
Māori All Blacks v IRELAND FMG Stadium, Hamilton, Wednesday 29th June
All Blacks v IRELAND Eden Park, Auckland, Saturday 2 July
All Blacks v IRELAND Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, Saturday 9 July
Māori All Blacks v IRELAND SKY Stadium, Wellington, Tuesday 12 July
All Blacks v IRELAND SKY Stadium, Wellington, Saturday 16 July