Rugby

Depleted England to face ABs

2013-12-02 20:12
Stuart Lancaster (AFP)

London -England will play Tests in Auckland, Dunedin and Hamilton when they tour New Zealand next year, the Rugby Football Union announced Monday.

The series starts at the All Blacks Eden Park fortress on June 7, continues at Forsyth Barr Stadium seven days later and concludes at Waikato Stadium on June 21.

England's tour also includes a midweek match against seven-time Super Rugby champions the Crusaders in Christchurch on June 17.

Three of England's 2011 World Cup group matches were staged in Dunedin, where they defeated Argentina, Georgia and Romania, while Eden Park was the setting for their 19-12 quarter-final loss to beaten finalists France.

2015 World Cup hosts England will travel to New Zealand looking to turn the table on the world champions following last month's 30-22 loss at Twickenham in a gripping encounter.

"To play the world champions in their own back yard is the ultimate test," said England coach Stuart Lancaster.

"We saw in the Rugby Championship and the QBE Internationals what a formidable team and rugby nation New Zealand is.

"This is our final tour before the World Cup and is massively important for us to benchmark ourselves against the number one team in the world.

"Playing three Tests and a midweek match will give us the opportunity to take 35 to 40 players who will get a chance to lay down a marker 15 months out from the World Cup."

In a separate statement, New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew said: "We are very excited to be hosting England next year.

"England have proven in recent matches with the All Blacks just how tough an opponent they are so we hope this series will be a huge draw card for fans."

England's prospects of winning the series opener will be hampered by a fixture clash that means Lancaster is almost bound to field a weakened team.

The first Test takes place just seven days after the English Premiership final at Twickenham and that has left Lancaster in a position where he won't be able to field his best XV until Dunedin.

France, Wales and Ireland will face the same complication following the Top 14 and Celtic League finals on May 31 for their 2014 tours of Australia, South Africa and Argentina respectively.

International Rugby Board (IRB) chief executive Brett Gosper said last week officials were looking at ways to avoid similar schedule clashes in the future.

After the England tour, New Zealabnd -- who recently became the first side in the professional era to win all their Tests in a calendar year -- will stage three matches in the southern hemisphere Rugby Championship.

Those internationals will take place at ests at Eden Park, Westpac Stadium and McLean Park in Napier, with the Napier match the first All Blacks Test there since a 1996 encounter against Samoa.

Fixtures for England's tour of New Zealand in 2014:

June 7:

First Test, Eden Park, Auckland

June 14:

Second Test, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

June 17:

Crusaders, AMI (Addington) Stadium, Christchurch

June 21:

Third Test, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton

Note: All kick-of times to be confirmed

Read more on:    all blacks  |  stuart lancaster  |  rugby
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