NZ Rugby News Update: Black Ferns double-header/Game of three halves/French Barbarians

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Black Ferns double-header
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 22: Selica Winiata of the Black Ferns runs in for a try during the international womens Test match between the New Zealand Black Ferns and the Australian Wallaroos at Eden Park on October 22, 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

In more positive news for the New Zealand women’s World Champion rugby team, it has been announced that there has been a Black Ferns double-header added to the Bledisloe Cup schedule.

As well, the All Blacks have announced a warm up ‘Game of three halves’ in Christchurch, ahead of the June Internationals against the French team. It follows on the New Zealand sides pre-Test series preparation player days and camps.

And in news just released by New Zealand Rugby, the French Barbarians will also play matches alongside the 2018 Test series. In a pair of games that benefit both the dormant Super Rugby franchises, and

NZ Rugby News Update

Black Ferns double-header announced

Following the terrific success of of 2017, when the women’s XVs team claimed their fifth Rugby World Cup championship, there needed to be new challenges. Voted the World Rugby team of the year, the women have been provided with more competition in 2018.

In conjunction with Rugby Australia, the New Zealand Rugby unions have scheduled two matches which will create a Bledisloe Cup double-header in August. Timed to be the opening match in both the Sydney and Auckland fixtures, for The 2018 Rugby Championship.

NZR chief Steve Tew commented in an media release, “We are very excited at the prospect of having both the Black Ferns and All Blacks in action against one of our closest rivals. Having our two top sides take on the Aussies in the same night is something special.

“To be able to schedule double Test matches both home and away is a real bonus.”

Billed no longer as a curtain raiser game either. This Black Ferns double-header series is designed to promote regular matches for the World Champions. This time against Australia, with up to five matches to be planned for this year alone. All to support the new efforts by NZ Rugby to underline the newly offered professional contracts for the Black Ferns.

The Laurie O’Reilly Memorial Trophy will be up for grabs when the Black Ferns play Australia in Sydney and Auckland at the same time as the All Blacks take on Australia. So, when fans purchase a ticket in August, they will enjoy the Black ferns double-header, as well as the men’s test match – that is ‘double delight’.

Note: this is the second consecutive year that NZ Rugby have billed a double-header match. In 2017, prior to the British and Irish Lions series, the Pasifika Challenge was booked, with a Tonga v Wales match scheduled to open the Friday night game at Eden Park.

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‘Game of three halves’ booked for Christchurch

As has occurred over the last few years, prior to the start of The Rugby Championship, the All Blacks will engage in a ‘game of three halves’. To be played in Christchurch on August 10, it will serve many purposes;

  1. After the French test series, players will revert back to Super Rugby. The remaining weeks of competition will include the finals knockout matches, prior to the Grand Final
  2. The All Blacks need to keep players not involved in finals matches fresh
  3. Opposed training aside, three 40 minute ‘halves’ expose the All Blacks to intense pressure to simulate match conditions, effect systems, patterns and player development

So in order to accomplish their goals in the Rugby Champion ship, the week prior to the opening test against Australia, the All Blacks have invited Canterbury and the Otago Mitre 10 Cup sides to participate in the annual ‘game of three halves’.

Both an opportunity to make improvements to the group, prior to the start the the four-nation series, but it also offers Mainland fans a chance to see their heroes. As well as training in the city, the players will be available to media and the meet the fans.

The location is as much about respect, as it is about preparations. With the Christchurch City holding fewer test matches; due to a lack of an appropriate International venue, the fixture will satisfy fans and to reaffirm the regions importance to the All Blacks leadership.

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French Barbarians to meet Super Rugby sides

News just to hand is that the French Rugby Federation will also bring with them; during the upcoming Steinlager Series, a French Barbarians rugby side. Scheduled to play two matches during the series, they will test the depth and development of French rugby.

During the absence of meaningful competition, the Crusaders and the Highlanders will now have a fixture to aim for. On Friday June 15 in Christchurch, followed by a second game on Friday 22 in the southern city of Invercargill. It will bring bi-lateral benefits for the French union, as well for the Super Rugby sides (during the idle period of the June Internationals.

And even while the focus will be on the All Blacks in June, it is surely an attractive option for test-starved Canterbury fans, to see both this Barbarians match, as well as the latter ‘Game of three halves’ on August 10.

 

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