The Māori All Blacks will play Ireland in two mid-week matches in Hamilton and Wellington this July New Zealand Rugby (NZR) announced today.
The first match will be at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton on Wednesday 29 June at 7.05pm with the second at Sky Stadium in Wellington on Tuesday 12 July at 7.05pm. Both matches will be live and exclusive on SKY.
Ireland will bring an expanded squad to cater for the two mid-week matches which will be in addition to the three Test Steinlager Series against the All Blacks.
The Māori All Blacks have played Ireland on two previous occasions, the most famous being the New Zealand Natives 13-4 win at Landsdowne Road in Dublin in 1888. The only other match between the two sides was in 2010 at Rotorua International Stadium where the Māori All Blacks won a thrilling match 31-28.
Māori All Blacks Head Coach Clayton McMillan said:
“We look forward to welcoming Ireland, their players, management, and fans to Aotearoa, sharing our respective cultures, and celebrating our rich histories through rugby. Our rivalry goes back more than 100 years and that will only add to the occasion. To play the world’s fourth ranked team in a two-match series is an exciting prospect and we expect both games to be huge challenges.
“Playing in Aotearoa is always special, and we know we have huge support in both Te Whanganui a Tara and Kirikiriroa. We’re looking forward to spending time in those communities, connecting with the region’s local Iwi, Māori, Māori All Blacks fans and putting out a performance our whānau and fans can be proud of.”
McMillan will name his squad for the series next month including a new captain after respected hooker Ash Dixon’s departure for Japan last year after leading the team to a two-match series win over Manu Samoa.
Ireland Head Coach Andy Farrell said:
“The Māori All Blacks will provide a stern test of our squad strength and depth. They are effectively a Test match side that have a proud tradition and impressive record of results. This tour is a huge opportunity for the group to develop and test itself against the best in their own backyard. Playing five games against such quality opposition will be of huge benefit to the group as we tour for the first time since 2018.”