Friday, November 02, 2012
France return to Eden Park as part of All Blacks series
WELLINGTON (Reuters) - The All Blacks will host France in three tests next June, the New Zealand Rugby Union confirmed on Friday, in a high profile series taking place at the same time as the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia.
France were the last northern hemisphere side to beat the world champions on home soil when they won 27-22 at Carisbrook in 2009 but there will be no return to Dunedin next year with Auckland, Christchurch and New Plymouth hosting the tests.
Les Bleus will be returning to Auckland's Eden Park, however, where they gave the host nation an almighty scare with an inspired performance before succumbing 8-7 in the World Cup final last October.
France were also the last visiting side to win at Eden Park but that was back in 1994 and the All Blacks have now won 29 consecutive matches at the stadium.
"We are thrilled to be hosting France once again, a team which always provides fans with a great rugby spectacle and a stern challenge for the All Blacks as we well know," NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said in a media release.
"I am sure fans will be especially excited about France returning to Eden Park on June 8 for their first match-up with the All Blacks since that pulsating encounter at Eden Park last October."
South Africa will also visit Eden Park in the second version of the Rugby Championship next year, while the home test against Argentina will take place at the more modest Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.
Australia, who ended New Zealand's winning streak at 16 matches with an 18-18 draw in Brisbane last month, will play two tests in New Zealand, one in the Rugby Championship in Wellington and a third Bledisloe Cup test in Dunedin.
All Blacks home schedule for 2013 (date/opposition/venue):
June 8 France Auckland
June 15 France Christchurch
June 22 France New Plymouth
Aug. 24 Australia Wellington
Sept. 7 Argentina Hamilton
Sept. 14 South Africa Auckland
Oct. 19 Australia Dunedin
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by John O'Brien)