Even before the head coach is appointed, the pressure of the 2020 All Blacks season has been set in stone with the schedule announced for a mammoth International season.
New Zealand Rugby (NZR) announced the dates and venues for the All Blacks home 2020 Steinlager Series and Investec Rugby Championship tests with Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin and Hamilton confirmed to host fixtures.
Eden Park – the fortress in recent memory for the home team – will host two Internationals. Wellington will host Wales and Australia, Scotland will play at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, and FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton will entertain Argentina.
It will be an initiation for the yet-to-be-named All Blacks head coach. His group of management and senior players will be tested from the beginning of the 2020 All Blacks season, as internal and external pressure adds to the weight of [preceived] failure in Japan.
Pressure of 2020 All Blacks season set in stone
Fan anticipation will be high; for both the home town fans, as well as the offshore supporters. That is due to a yearly desire to embrace the International fixtures but, also a question (deserved or other) on the validity of the sides place, in World Rugby.
Be that third, second-best or, an untried and untested group.
The upcoming season will certainly prove those questions and more.
2020 All Blacks home schedule:
v Wales, 4 July, Eden Park
v Wales, 11 July, Sky Stadium
v Scotland, 18 July, Forsyth Barr Stadium
v Australia, Saturday 15 August, Sky Stadium, Wellington
v Argentina, Saturday 29 August, FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton
v South Africa, Saturday 5 September, Eden Park Auckland
After the Super Rugby finals series on June 20, the new International season will begin. South Africa will play Scotland, Australia will play Ireland, in several competitive series on the World Rugby International calendar. And with the 2020 All Blacks schedule confirmed, the North v South trend will test out the sides, as well as the All Blacks new coaching set-up [to be confirmed].
That will also be the first test for the – to be announced – new All Blacks captain. After Kieran Read ended his International career, the torch may be passed to Sam Whitelock (see main picture) or another senior player. Certainly, a test of the players determination, to recover from their third place at the Rugby World Cup.
It will also be Welsh coach Wayne Pivac’s first International tour. Ironically, the ex-pat Kiwi travels to the country where he started his coaching journey. That saw him kick-off with a win over the Barbarians, before his side cast an eye on the 2020 Guinness Six Nations.
A step for his term, and the first test for the new AB coach, set in stone and ready to set a new value on the All Blacks brand.
“Main photo credit”
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