It has been announced that the Maori All Blacks are set to face Munster in Limerick this November.
According to the New Zealand Herald, the touring side will face the USA Eagles in Chicago on November 4th and Munster on November 11th.
Their visit to Thomond park marks yet another chapter in a storied history of battles between the red province and representatives of the southern island nation.
The All Blacks only ever defeat to an Irish side came in a now infamous 1978 encounter against Munster. On that fateful October day, 12,000 people watched the province beating the New Zealand side 12-0. In doing the impossible, Munster prevented the touring side a clean sweep of victories that year.
In their most recent visit back in 2008, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of that famous victory, the All Blacks faced a mighty Munster side, then kings of European rugby.
Those in attendance and watching on television were treated to the most rousing and spine tingling haka of all time. As the All Blacks lined up to carry out their ceremonial battle cry, Munster Kiwi trio of Doug Howlett, Rua Tipoki and Lifeimi Mafi strode out to face them with their own haka. It was a moment that nearly brought grown men to tears, such was the emotion of the scene.
Galvanising the crowd and their Munster heroes, it was only a late try by Joe Rokocoko that sealed an 18-16 win for the tourists and prevented another famous victory for the province.
With the history and emotion that comes with this famous fixture, the November 11th date will be met with huge anticipation by both sides. While Munster are no longer the side they once were, history tells them not to fear the mighty All Blacks.
This visit sees the Maori All Blacks make the visit, their first to Munster. A team made up entirely of player with native origins to the Polynesian Islands, they are a side that boasts huge strength and depth, most notably the barn storming centre Charlie Ngatai. Ngatai is currently tipped to replace the retired Ma’a Nonu for the All Blacks tests against the visiting Welsh this summer.
With a full summer of test series between the home nations and the southern hemisphere greats already scheduled, the visit of the Maori All Blacks in November only adds to an already mouth watering Autumn line-up, which also sees Ireland facing Australia and the All Blacks themselves in Dublin.
For all Ireland and Munster rugby fans it would appear that Christmas is about to come a month early this year. Let’s just hope that there are a few treats in the bag.
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