New Zealand rugby has announced what it's calling a 'blockbuster' 10 Test international schedule for the Black Ferns and All Blacks as they defend their home turf this year.
The All Blacks three-Test Steinlager Series will kick off against Ireland on July 2, with the ABs going on to host Argentina and Australia for the Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship, while the Black Ferns kick off their Rugby World Cup 2021 (postponed to 2022 due to Covid-19) preparations against Australia, Canada and the USA in the Pacific Four Series in June.
New Zealand Rugby (NZR) Chief Executive, Mark Robinson praised the first full international test schedule in Aotearoa after two years of Covid-19 disruption.
“It has been a long time since the Black Ferns played a test in Aotearoa and the Pacific Four gives New Zealanders the opportunity to get excited about women’s rugby in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup and to get behind their team in what is a huge year for the women’s game.
The NZRU says rugby fans can look forward to a 'blockbuster' 10 Test international schedule as the Black Ferns and All Blacks prepare to defend their home turf in 2022.
“The All Blacks have a big season ahead with the Steinlager Series against Ireland and a tough Rugby Championship schedule. I know Foz [All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster] and the team can’t wait for the season to kick off and I’m sure fans feel the same way. We have not hosted Ireland since 2012 and Argentina have not played here since 2018, so we cannot wait to welcome two great rugby rivals and their fans to our country.”
The Black Ferns' Pacific Four Series will be the first series headed by new director of rugby Wayne Smith and his assistant coaches Wesley Clarke and Whitney Hansen after previous coach Glenn Moore left his role following a highly critical report into the team’s culture in early April.
The Black Ferns schedule features tests against Australia, Canada and USA on 6, 12 and 18 June, with tickets on sale next month; the Rugby World Cup 2021 kicks off at Eden Park on October 8, and will see the Black Ferns play at least three pool matches on home soil before the knock-out phase.
The All Blacks v Ireland test will be played at Eden Park and will be the first time the two sides have clashed since Dublin last November. The second and third Steinlager Series Tests will be in Dunedin, on 9 July and in Wellington on 16 July.
The All Blacks home fixtures in the Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship feature two tests against Argentina in Christchurch and Hamilton and a Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia at Eden Park on September 24.
The Argentinians will return to Aotearoa for the first time since 2018, with Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch hosting the first test on August 27, and FMG Stadium Waikato hosting the second Test on September 3.
The Black Ferns will reignite their trans-Tasman rivalry will the first of two O’Reilly Cup Tests to be played at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch, with the second test to be played in Australia.
The All Blacks test matches will be broadcast exclusive to Sky, while the Black Ferns Pacific Four tests will be broadcast on Spark Sport; tickets can be purchased at AllBlacks.com
Black Ferns and All Blacks International Home Test Schedule
2022 Pacific Four Series
Black Ferns vs Australia, Monday 6 June, 2.45PM, Venue TBC
Black Ferns vs Canada, Sunday 12 June, 2.45PM, Trusts Arena, Waitakere AUCKLAND
Blacks Ferns vs USA, Saturday 18 June, 4.00PM, Semenoff Stadium, WHANGAREI
2022 Steinlager Series
All Blacks vs Ireland, Saturday 2 July, 7.05PM, Eden Park, AUCKLAND
All Blacks vs Ireland, Saturday 9 July, 7.05PM, Forsyth Barr Stadium, DUNEDIN
All Blacks vs Ireland, Saturday 16 July, 7.05PM, Sky Stadium, WELLINGTON
The Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship
All Blacks vs Argentina, Saturday 27 August, Kick-off time TBC, Orangetheory Stadium, CHRISTCHURCH
All Blacks vs Argentina, Saturday 3 September, 7.05PM, FMG Stadium Waikato, HAMILTON
The Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup
All Blacks vs Australia, Saturday 24 September, 7.05PM, Eden Park, AUCKLAND
Laurie O’Reilly Series (one of two test matches, the second to be played in Australia)
Black Ferns vs Australia, 20 August, 7.05PM, Orangetheory Stadium, CHRISTCHURCH