Dunedin to host Junior All Blacks

The Junior All Blacks will host Australia A in this year’s expanded International Rugby Board (IRB) Pacific Nations Cup tournament as they look to defend the title they won last year.

The match will be played on Saturday 16 June at Carisbrook in Dunedin where the Junior All Blacks beat Japan 38-8 last year to clinch the inaugural IRB Pacific 5 Nations tournament.

Australia A joins the Junior All Blacks, Fiji, Japan, Samoa and Tonga in the expanded competition this year.

New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) Deputy Chief Executive Steve Tew said the Junior All Blacks’ participation in the Pacific Nations Cup was important for rugby in New Zealand and the game’s development in the Pacific Island nations and Asia.

“As our second national team, we have stressed the importance of a regular programme for the Junior All Blacks at the same time as the All Blacks to keep another group of international players game fit should they be required by the All Blacks,” Tew said.

Tew said the match in Dunedin offered rugby supporters in the South Island another opportunity to see quality international action in addition to the Tri-Nations Test between the All Blacks and Springboks in Christchurch on 14 July.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Under 21 have also been scheduled to play the Canadian Test side in June.

The Canadians will play the All Blacks u21 team on Thursday 21 June at Rotorua International Stadium, five days after they play the All Blacks.

Tew said the fixture had been arranged as the Canadians were keen to play an extra match – and the NZRU wanted to continue the development of New Zealand’s young talent.

“There is no IRB Under 21 World Championship tournament this year but our focus remains on developing the next group of players who have been identified as future Air New Zealand Cup, Super 14 and international players.”

An initial trial squad of 44 young players will go into camp in Palmerston North in April with the squad for the match against Canada picked in May.

“Our High Performance team has worked hard at putting together a programme designed to enhance the development of the individual players. The aim is to give these young players quality one-on-one coaching from some of our top resource coaches.”

He added that the match was part of the NZRU’s ongoing support for rugby development in Canada, demonstrated by several appearances by New Zealand national teams in North America in recent years.

365 Digital

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