The Māori All Blacks will play in their biggest match since the Lions tour in 2017, when they hosted Ireland in two games in Hamilton and Wellington.
New Zealand rugby announced on Tuesday that Ireland would play two mid-week games against the Māori All Blacks as part of their New Zealand tour in June and July.
The first match will take place in Hamilton on June 29 and the second in Wellington on July 12.
They will be the most significant Māori All Blacks have played since hosting the British and Irish Lions in Rotorua in 2017, a match the Lions won 32-10.
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Ireland is in fourth place in the world under coach Andy Farrell, who was an assistant to the Warren Gatland Lions in 2017, and also plays with the All Blacks in a highly anticipated test series in July.
Farrell’s team defeated the All Blacks 29:20 in Dublin last November and won three of their last five games since Ireland’s first test victory over New Zealand in Chicago in 2016.
The Māori All Blacks and Ireland faced each other only twice – the first match took place in 1888 in Dublin and their last meeting was in Rotorua in 2010.
Ireland will bring an expanded cadre due to extra matches on tour. It is unlikely that most of their test stars will face the Māori team, as each match is only a few days before the test against the All Blacks.
Māori All Blacks coach Clayton McMillan names his team next month and appoints a new captain after moving Ash Dixon to Japanese rugby.
The Māori played a one-off match with Moana Pasifik in 2020 and a two-match series with Fiji in 2019.
They hosted Sam twice last year, winning 35:10 in Wellington and 38:21 in Auckland, when crowds of spectators for both matches were severely limited due to the limitations of Covid-19 that applied at the time.
“We look forward to welcoming Ireland, their players, leaders and fans to Aotearoa, sharing our respective cultures and celebrating our rich history through rugby. Our rivalry is more than 100 years old and that will only contribute to this opportunity. Playing with the fourth team in the world rankings in the two-match series is an exciting prospect and we expect both matches to be a huge challenge, “McMillan said in a statement.
“Playing in Aotearoa is always special and we know we have huge support in Te Whanganui and Tara i Kirikiriroa. We look forward to spending time in these communities, teaming up with local Iwi, Māori, Māori All Blacks fans and hosting a show that our whānau and fans can be proud of. ”
Coach Farrell will lead Ireland on their first New Zealand tour since 2012.
“Māori All Blacks will provide a rigorous test of our team’s strength and depth. They are truly a test party with a proud tradition and impressive results. This tour is a huge opportunity for the group to develop and test against the best in their own backyard. Playing five matches against such a quality opposition will be a huge benefit for the group, because we are touring for the first time since 2018, “said Farrell in a statement.
Ireland finished second to Six Nations Champion France in March.
Irish tour of New Zealand
June 29: Māori All Blacks vs Ireland at 19:05, FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton
July 2: All Blacks vs Ireland at 19:05, Eden Park, Auckland
July 9: All Blacks vs Ireland at 19:05, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
July 12: Māori All Blacks vs Ireland at 19:05, Sky Stadium, Wellington
July 16: All Blacks vs Ireland at 19:05, Sky Stadium, Wellington