All Blacks roll out the welcome mat
May 24, 2010
NZRU chief Steve Tew was delighted to announce a mouth-watering Test schedule © Getty Images
The New Zealand Rugby Union have announced that they will play host to England, France and Ireland in a series of blockbusting tours between 2012 and 2014.
The announcement comes in the wake of the new 10-year international touring schedule released by the International Rugby Board during its recent meetings in Europe and follows similar mouth-watering clashes confirmed by both Australia and South Africa.
New Zealand Rugby Union CEO Steve Tew said the new schedule is a "major step forward" for the game in the Southern Hemisphere with SANZAR countries now hosting three-Test Series in June of each year.
Ireland will tour New Zealand in 2012 in what will be the first ever three-Test series between the All Blacks and the Irish. France will tour in 2013 in the first three-Test series against New Zealand since 1968 while England will tour in 2014 in what will also be an historic first ever three-test series against the All Blacks.
"We have been pushing for a return to proper rugby tours and for three-Test series for some time now so to see it now become a reality is fantastic. We are excited by the prospect of a three-Test series each year and I think fans will be as well," said Tew.
The new schedule also means the NZRU will also be able to explore the possibility of midweek matches for the visiting Northern Hemisphere sides, bringing back a modern version of the tours of old.
"We will start discussions with those countries about midweek matches in due course but we think it will be fantastic for fans if we can get some matches played outside of the main centres," Tew added.
He said the 2005 British & Irish Lions Tour demonstrated the interest from rugby fans in rugby tours that go beyond Test matches, while there was also a greater opportunity for visiting rugby fans to plan travel around a tour schedule.
While Ireland has never played a three-Test series against the All Blacks, they have played a two-Test series before: in New Zealand in 2006, 2002 and 1992. England have played the All Blacks in a two-Test series on six occasions: in 2008, 2004, 1998, 1997, 1985 and 1963. The All Blacks played a three-Test series against France in 1968 and 1961.
Schedule of rugby tours to New Zealand from 2012-2019, as confirmed by the New Zealand Rugby Union:
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