The Big Week Of Announcements By New Zealand Rugby

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LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: All Black assistant coach Wayne Smith during a New Zealand All Blacks training session at Lensbury on September 15, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

It’s been a whirlwind week of announcements by New Zealand Rugby, and perhaps it’s timely as the DHL Lions Series is now just ten days away.

From Kieran Read announcing that he will return to his home province, to a new home for the New Zealand leg of the HSBC World Sevens series; it’s all made for some interesting ‘news bites’ for the New Zealand rugby fan.

So, let’s get into it.

Kieran Read Re-Signs With New Zealand Rugby

All Blacks captain Kieran Read announced a new deal that will see him ‘return to his roots’ at Counties Manukau. On top of that, Read will stay on with  NZ Rugby and the Crusaders through until the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Read announced his decision to sign with Counties at his old school, Rosehill College in Papakura. The All Blacks captain said he decided to stay with Counties because its where his heart lays.

“I grew up playing my rugby in Drury and remember going to the old Growers Stadium to watch Jonah Lomu and Joeli Vidiri carve up for Counties, and I played age-grade rugby for the province.”

Wellington Sevens Becomes Hamilton Sevens

The Sevens has found a new home for its New Zealand leg of the HSBC World Series, and it can be found in the rugby-loving city of Hamilton in the mighty Waikato.

It sees ‘the end of an era’ for Wellington, previously the only other city to host the tournament on these shores.

Once one of the ‘must see’ annual sports events in New Zealand, the Wellington Sevens died a slow and painful death in recent years. It got to the point where even a quarter of the ticket sales hadn’t been made, for either day at Westpac Stadium, and it made for an absolute dismal event last time round.

Sonny Bill Williams couldn’t even draw close to a sell out when he appeared in 2016; this perhaps the biggest sign of them all that the tournament had gone sour.

Wayne Smith Departs All Blacks Coaching Role After 20 Years

Widely regarded as one of the best and smartest coaches in World Rugby, assistant All Blacks coach Wayne Smith announced that he’d depart the role at the conclusion of the 2017 Rugby Championship.

Smith has been involved in coaching the All Blacks since 1998 and has back-to-back Rugby World Cup wins (2011 and 2015). In recent years, Smith was defensive coach for the All Blacks.

Smiths’ departure took many by surprise, but the man himself says it has come at the right time.

“It’s unbelievable to think that I’ve been involved in playing and coaching the All Blacks for 20 years. It’s time to hang up my coaching whistle for a while, take a bit of a hiatus, freshen up and spend some more time with my wife Trish and our family.”

Vodafone Partners With All Blacks To Bring ‘Interactive Experience’

Vodafone has come on board as one of the new official sponsors for the All Blacks. The four-year agreement will create a ‘world-class digital experiences’ for fans inside and outside the stadium.

The mobile provider will launch a new All Blacks app that includes a new live stadium experience. Fans will be able to replay tries, view highlights, and watch alternative live footage right from their mobile devices. Vodafone will also extend the fan experience outside the stadium by providing high speed broadband in fan zones, as well as supporting a New Zealand Rugby road-trip during the DHL Lions Series.

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