All Blacks to play extra match in July
March 16, 2011
Water pours from a broken water main outside Christchurch's AMI Stadium © Getty Images
The All Blacks will play an extra match in New Zealand ahead of the Tri-Nations to raise funds to support rebuilding projects in earthquake-ravaged Christchurch, the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) announced on Wednesday.
The match will be used to help prepare the team for their busy schedule in the second half of the year, which includes the Tri-Nations and the Rugby World Cup, but there will be a strong focus on fundraising activities after the devastating February 22 disaster which caused widespread destruction and an expected death toll of around 180 people.
An opponent and a venue are yet to be confirmed, but All Blacks coach Graham Henry revealed the match will be played on New Zealand soil.
NZRU chief executive Steve Tew announced the tentative date for the match was July 22, eight days before the All Blacks play their first Tri-Nations match against South Africa in Wellington.
"We are yet to confirm the opposition and venue for the match but we are talking to a number of parties and we hope to have all details confirmed by the end of the month," Tew said.
The match will preferably, but not necessarily, be a Test, while details on the fundraising activity are also yet to be confirmed.
All Blacks coach Graham Henry said the extra match had been part of their planning before the earthquake struck, given there is a six-week break between the end of the Super Rugby regular season and their first Tri-Nations match.
"We came back from the overseas tour and had a couple of meetings at the beginning of the year and thought there was too big a gap between the end of the Super 15 and the start of the Tri-Nations, so we were looking at that opportunity," he said.
"Some players will have a longer break than others, depending on when they finish their Super rugby campaign, so it's an opportunity for us to get together and do some work. The players have been very keen to help out the people of Christchurch, so it was great to marry those two things together."
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