England confirm four-match NZ tour
England confirm four-match NZ tourSHARE
England will visit New Zealand for a three-Test series against the world champions next June with an additional midweek fixture against the Crusaders.
The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) on Monday confirmed the full schedule of six inbound Tests for 2014 with another midweek match also being played during the June series when England tours New Zealand for the first time since 2008.
The All Blacks take on England in the opening match of the June series at Eden Park on June 7 which is sure to be a nail-biter after the heart-stopping Test during the end-of-year European tour where New Zealand regained the Hillary Shield with a 30-22 win.
This is followed by Tests in Dunedin and Hamilton while England also plays the Crusaders in a midweek match at AMI (Addington) Stadium in Christchurch on June 17.
“We are very excited to be hosting England next year,” said NZRU Chief Executive Steve Tew.
“England have proven in recent matches with the All Blacks just how tough an opponent they are so we hope this series will be a huge draw card for fans.
“It’s great to be taking England to Dunedin. I am sure they have plenty of fond memories from their time there during Rugby World Cup where they played three matches.
“England and Argentina also had the privilege of being the first nations to enjoy the excellent facilities of Forsyth Barr Stadium during the opening weekend of the World Cup.
“England, like France last year, were keen to add a midweek match to their itinerary so it’s great that we can provide them a high quality opponent in the Crusaders after the second Test in Dunedin. Given the heritage shared by England and Canterbury, this is sure to be a very special night.”
England head coach Stuart Lancaster is relishing the opportunity to take on "the ultimate test" in the final tour before the 2015 World Cup.
“To play the world champions in their own back yard is the ultimate test,” he said. “We saw in the Rugby Championship and the November internationals what a formidable team and rugby nation New Zealand is.”
Lancaster will continue his policy of taking an extended group of up to 40 players, with the aim to expose as many individuals as possible to the England touring environment as the journey to the World Cup gathers pace.
He added: “This is our final tour before the World Cup and it is massively important for us to benchmark ourselves against the No.1 team in the world.
“Playing three Tests and a midweek match will give us the opportunity to take 35 to 40 players who will get a chance to lay down a marker 15 months out from the tournament.”
The June series wraps up in Hamilton on June 21 which could well be the series decider.
“We expect Waikato fans will be there in numbers backing black as they did so well this year for the Argentina match despite the conditions that day,” said Tew.
“The final of Junior World Championship 2014 is also the night before at Eden Park on June 20 so fans in the Auckland and Waikato regions are in for an action-packed weekend of top rugby."
The 2014 Rugby Championship features Tests at Eden Park, Westpac Stadium and McLean Park in Napier.
“We are really pleased to be taking Test match rugby back to McLean Park which proved a great venue during Rugby World Cup 2011," said Tew.
"The city warmly welcomed France, Canada and Japan for two matches during the Cup and fans turned out in force so I am sure they will turn it on again for our Argentinian visitors next year.”
The match will be the first All Blacks Test there since 1996 when they played Manu Samoa.
Auckland hosts Australia for the second Bledisloe Cup Test on August 23, a week after the first encounter for the season in Sydney. South Africa returns to Westpac Stadium for the final domestic match of the season on September 13 and their first visit to the capital since 2011.
“We have seen this year how fans in the Auckland and Wellington regions filled their respective grounds and we are hopeful of bumper crowds again next year for what will be terrific Test encounters,” said Tew.
Christchurch will host a further international in 2015 as part of the Rugby Championship with the opponents to be confirmed.
England tour to New Zealand 2014:
Saturday, June 7:
England v New Zealand
(Eden Park, Auckland)
Saturday, June 14:
England v New Zealand
(Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin)
Tuesday, June 17:
England v Crusaders
(AMI [Addington] Stadium, Christchurch)
Saturday, June 21:
England v New Zealand
(Waikato Stadium, Hamilton)