With the 2020 All Blacks squad coming from the participants in the North v South trial game, head coach Ian Foster will select his players comprising that group on Sunday, September 6.
The rescheduled fixture has been shifted to Wellington, so that players from Auckland can attend. Covid-19 restrictions limit the possibility of fans attending the match but, New Zealand (NZR) deemed it critical to carry through with the clash.
Not postponing the game any further means that the trial can give the selectors time to evaluate players in a match situation. Not simulated or opposed training. It will allow Grant Fox and Ian Foster to better judge the merits of existing All Black probables, as well as the many possibles who could earn a call-up to the All Blacks squad.
ANNOUNCEMENT 🗞️ | Steinlager North v South game confirmed for Wellington.
— New Zealand Rugby (@NZRugby) August 26, 2020
2020 All Blacks squad formed from North v South clash
The merits of the Steinlager North v South trial game are two-fold. Primarily, to decide on the makeup of a potential All Blacks squad. For the players to gauge themselves in a high-performance arena.
Secondary, is to expose the All Blacks assistant coaches to the tasks and experiences of combining the national talents into a cohesive unit. Most players will have that, however, the likes of Greg Feek, John Plumtree, Brad Mooar, and Scott McLeod have not assembled in their capacity yet. Not being able to show their individual and collective skill sets, that will then be utilized under the command of Ian Foster looking towards the Bledisloe Cup and The Rugby Championship.
And that is a benefit of the wider squad announced. With Plumtree and McLeod coaching the North, and Mooar and Feek coaching the South, the two groups can then spend the week training and being groomed on the finer details.
“This is a chance for these players to be part of something really special. It’s a once-in-a-generation match for them and players who have previously taken part in these matches have talked about how unique and memorable it was.
“Now these two teams get to write their own history and stories around this match”.
“The match will bring out the best in everyone and I’m sure there will be a parochial rivalry in spades. It’s a special game because it celebrates where the players made their provincial debuts and, for some, where they really took those first steps in their professional careers,” Foster said.
The North and South squads will assemble in Wellington on Monday to prepare for the match. And miraculously, after an 88-year absence, the Loving Cup will be awarded to the winning team. Thought lost forever, Eden Park staff uncovered the missing trophy, which will retake its place as a reward for the North v South game.
Farah Palmer Cup and Mitre 10 Cup begin 2020 seasons
On September 5 and September 11 respectively, the Farah Palmer Cup and Mitre 10 Cup provincial sides begin their 2020 seasons. Abridged, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the women’s competition had to be delayed by two weeks.
— Black Ferns (@BlackFerns) August 19, 2020
Each will now play out their schedules with enthusiasm. Matches across the country will see players match themselves for national provincial honours, and for local derby clashes that are the highlights for communities and unions.
The 14 provincial unions comprising the Premiership and Championship draws of the Mitre 10 Cup can now ‘accept the challenge’ at hand.
Restrictions may reduce crowd numbers yet with all Mitre 10 Cup, and a high proportion of the Farah Palmer Cup games too broadcast on SkySports and free-to-air PrimeTV, so the exposure of grassroots rugby will take-up the void left by an unforeseeable International season.
During the Mitre 10 Cup, expect to see many of the men who are a part of the All Blacks squad to participate. It will be a great boost to provincial sides, although some will be called up if and when an International schedule is confirmed.
Bledisloe Cup planning may see matches played offshore
All the time that the Coronavirus has interrupted the World Rugby’s planned International calendar, possibilities of matches involving the All Blacks have been postponed and then cancelled.
Recent indications from media suggest now, that a Bledisloe Cup series might begin offshore. Not as earlier scheduled originally for October 10 in Wellington. Reported in the NZ Herald, the opening two tests may be played in Queensland, where the possibility of matches at the Gold Coast Cbus Super Stadium instead. That would be followed by a test at Suncorp Stadium, a week later.
Any prospect of playing offshore involves a quarantine period. So an Ian Foster coached All Blacks squad would then need to travel on or before, September 25, to meet this timeline. The unfortunate outcome being that the squad members be removed from domestic rugby earlier, than many fans had anticipated.
While it spoils their involvement, the attraction to any International rugby outweighs local interest. The Bledisloe Cup will always have a primary focus for the All Blacks. They feel a stronger bond to the trophy for trans-Tasman rugby dominance, over the majority of rewards. Denied the Webb Ellis Cup by a determined England side, the All Blacks side will dearly love to play Australia – even if it requires a total of four weeks quarantine, on their return to New Zealand.
If the match schedule plays out as suggested, then on their return, the possibility of The Rugby Championship is the next fixture list that would need to be actioned.
Overall, the clarity that a trial game now draws is that Ian Foster can find his 2020 All Blacks squad from the upcoming North v South clash. How they progress, and who they might play is still to be confirmed.
North v South – 7:10pm, Saturday September 5. Sky Stadium
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