Māori All Blacks to take on Ireland

By James Perry

The Māori All Blacks will play Ireland in two mid-week matches in Hamilton and Wellington later this year, the first Tier-1 opponent in more than 10 years.

The two matches will take place while Ireland is on tour in Aotearoa, where they will also play a three-match test series against the All Blacks.

The first Māori All Blacks match will be played on June 29 at Hamilton, before the first All Black test, and the second game will be 2 weeks later on July 12 at Wellington.

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. The only other match between the two sides was in 2010 at Rotorua International Stadium where the Māori All Blacks won a thrilling match 31-28, in a match that celebrated the centenary of the Māori All Blacks.

The last Tier 1 opponent the Māori side played was a week later against England in Napier, the then Jamie Joseph coached team winning 35-28. They played the British and Irish Lions in 2017, losing 32-10.

Māori All Blacks Head Coach Clayton McMillan says, “we look forward to welcoming Ireland, their players, management, and fans to Aotearoa, sharing our respective cultures, and celebrating our rich histories through rugby. Our rivalry goes back more than 100 years and that will only add to the occasion. To play the world’s fourth-ranked team in a two-match series is an exciting prospect and we expect both games to be huge challenges.

“Playing in Aotearoa is always special, and we know we have huge support in both Te Whanganui a Tara and Kirikiriroa. We’re looking forward to spending time in those communities, connecting with the region’s local Iwi, Māori, Māori All Blacks fans and putting out a performance our whānau and fans can be proud of.”

McMillan will name his squad for the series next month including a new captain after respected hooker Ash Dixon’s departure for Japan last year after leading the team to a two-match series win over Manu Samoa.

Ireland Head Coach Andy Farrell said, “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.”

The first game at Hamilton will be the first time a New Zealand side has played Ireland since their 29-20 win over the All Blacks in November 2021. 

Tickets for the 2 games will go on sale this Friday, May 20, with one child admitted with each paying adult.