Possible two tests for Fiji against All Blacks
May 5, 2021 7:18 am
Fiji may be taking on the All Blacks in back to back tests as New Zealand Rugby is getting set to turn its July test window into an historic celebration of Pacific Islands rugby.
Corresponding with its expansion plans for the Super game in 2022 the All Blacks may also be adding Samoa to the three-game window to create a special moment in history for the Pasifika nations.
It would be the first time the All Blacks would have played an entire home series against Pacific Islands opposition.
The original schedule had the All Blacks hosting Italy twice over the first two Saturdays in July, followed by a single test against Fiji.
Negotiations are ongoing, but NZ Rugby hopes to have something in place for when World Rugby officially unveils its July schedule – headlined by the British and Irish Lions’ tour of South Africa – within the next couple of weeks.
The Pacific theme to the July window might have been forced on NZ Rugby somewhat, with alternatives thin on the ground because of the pandemic and Lions tour, but it fits nicely with their intention to add an Auckland-based Moana Pasifika side and the Fijian Drua to Super Rugby from 2022.
NZ Rugby has often been criticized for not doing enough to support and promote the island’s game, and this would represent a firm step in that direction.
Samoa shapes as the obvious opponent to sit alongside Fiji, with Tonga committed to World Cup qualifiers over that time frame.
The All Blacks last faced Fiji in 2011 in Dunedin and Samoa in 2017 in Auckland ahead of the Lions tour.
Meanwhile, the Rugby Championship looks set to play out mostly between New Zealand and Australia from August to October, with the possibility of Argentina’s clash against the Springboks taking place outside the trans-Tasman nations.
Sanzaar organizers are said to be seeking clarification around the freedom of the trans-Tasman movement for Argentina and South Africa once they had cleared their initial border isolation requirements.
The obvious intention is for Australia and New Zealand to host their respective tests against the Boks and Pumas within their nations.
NZ Rugby would look to stage the Boks test – the 100th meeting between the two great rivals – at Eden Park, with the Pumas clash likely to be staged in Dunedin or Hamilton.
The Rugby Championship schedule is also set to be unveiled by Sanzaar within the next two weeks.