New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew has said the All Blacks will look to play a fourth test or game on their end-of-year in 2017, according to reports, with the possibility of facing a club side rather than an international team.
In a press conference held after the NZRU’s final board meeting of the year, Tew said (via Stuff.co.nz):
“We’ve been talking to the All Blacks pretty much all year about what we will do in terms of an additional game, and that work is well underway as we speak. But it won’t be England.”
New Zealand already have fixtures lined up against France, Scotland and Wales after a very busy mid-year featuring the Lions tour to the country.
The chief executive indicated there is the possibility that the most famous brand in world rugby could face a club team rather than add a full international as a fourth match.
New Zealand’s premier rugby team has not played a non-international match since 2009 when the ‘New Zealand XV’ side faced the Barbarians and lost 25 – 18 at Twickenham, with fixtures against ‘A’ teams or other representative sides played by the Maori All Blacks. Indeed, the Maori All Blacks faced both Harlequins and Munster earlier this year.
In contrast, both Australia and South Africa have capitalised on potentially lucrative fixtures against some of the biggest club sides in the northern hemisphere, taking part in matches against Leicester, Munster and Saracens.
Although it seems unlikely that the All Blacks will play England any time soon, there is the chance the side could line up against one of the country’s best clubs, or even face the financial might of one of France’s Top 14 sides. Would anyone fancy seeing Toulon take on New Zealand?
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena
Heineken Rugby Club celebrates and rewards real supporters who make the game what it is.