The Māori All Blacks have played Ireland on two previous occasions, the most famous being the New Zealand Natives’ 13-4 win at Landsdowne Road in Dublin in 1888. So the news that two additional Māori All Blacks Ireland fixtures give many traditional supporters a feel-good factor.
After the disruption of the last 24 months, seeing midweek games announced to wide applause is appreciated. Since the pandemic shortened calendars, adding games is on one hand good, yet on the other a massive ask of the touring nation. So how Irish Rugby accepted and developed these clashes in the middle of three peak Test matches, helps to embolden the game in the long term.
Of importance, are the dates. Plus, the fact they are over 13 days apart means a good deal to the men in green. Planning for the first match at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton, on Wednesday, June 29 at 7.05pm. Then the second #MABvIRE game is at Sky Stadium in Wellington, on Tuesday, July 12. A very decent break for a tourist, although if fitness becomes an issue after the all-important Irish second test, imagine some ‘Irish blooded’ players being possibly employed [tbc].
What an occasion.
Māori All Blacks v @IrishRugby. We're coming for you Te Whanganui a Tara and Kirikiriroa 👊🏾
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) May 16, 2022
Maori All Blacks meet Ireland in midweek fixtures this July
The Māori All Blacks will play Ireland in two mid-week matches in Hamilton and Wellington this July. Not the main focus of the tourists yet the stature of the opposition must give the Irish Rugby advance planning staff an immensely proud enthusiasm. On top of the earliest game in 1888, this comes after the most recent game when the Māori All Blacks were victorious 31-28 in 2010 at the Rotorua International Stadium.
So playing the cultural representatives is not as common as it might – or really should be, these added fixtures make a natural sense. Not added names just to play mind you but, players who could start for their country immediately after or by the end of this announced tour. And every eligible Irishman will want to be called in to play the Maori. While predominantly there for a test versus the New Zealand All Blacks; who is to say that a Māori All Blacks Ireland game might not become the ‘highlight of the trip’.
Andy Farrell commented in an Irish Rugby media release that, “the Māori All Blacks will provide a stern test of our squad strength and depth. They are effectively a Test match side that has a proud tradition and impressive record of results.
“This tour is a huge opportunity for the group to develop and test itself against the best in their own backyard”.
“Playing five games against such quality opposition will be of huge benefit to the group as we tour for the first time since 2018.”
More memories can be made in 2022, as they were in 2010. Who might have foreseen that a young Aaron Smith (see the main photo) then might still be the pre-eminent All Blacks halfback – as he is so clearly still is. And if those new memories could be added to the experiences of Irish test players now, like Tadhg Furlong and Jordan Lamour can add their names to the proud history of players facing New Zealand opposition, on their home soil.
See the full tour schedule here:
Game One: Māori All Blacks v IRELAND
FMG Stadium, Hamilton, Wednesday, June 29 (kick-off 7.05pm local time/8.05am Irish time)
Game Two: New Zealand v IRELAND 1st Test
Eden Park, Auckland, Saturday, July 2 (kick-off 7.05pm local time/8.05am Irish time)
Game Three: New Zealand v IRELAND 2nd Test
Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, Saturday, July 9 (kick-off 7.05pm local time/8.05am Irish time)
Game Four: Māori All Blacks v IRELAND
Sky Stadium, Wellington, Tuesday, July 12 (kick-off 7.05pm local time/8.05am Irish time)
Final Game: New Zealand v IRELAND 3rd Test
Sky Stadium, Wellington, Saturday, July 16 (kick-off 7.05pm local time/8.05am Irish time)
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images