All Blacks to play seven home tests

Israel Dagg. Photo / Getty Images.
Israel Dagg. Photo / Getty Images.

France are returning to take on the All Blacks for the first time since the Rugby World Cup final when they play three tests next June to kick off the domestic campaign.

The New Zealand Rugby Union today unveiled the full schedule of inbound tests for 2013, which includes seven tests in a season for the first time since 2008.

Auckland, Christchurch and New Plymouth will host the three matches against France. Wellington, Hamilton and Auckland will host the 2013 Rugby Championship matches, with Dunedin rounding out the international season at home with the third Bledisloe Cup test.

"We are thrilled to be hosting France once again, a team which always provides fans with a great rugby spectacle and a stern challenge for the All Blacks as we well know,'' NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said.

"I am sure fans will be especially excited about France returning to Eden Park on June 8 for their first match-up with the All Blacks since that pulsating encounter at Eden Park last October.

"It's also very pleasing to bring France to New Plymouth where the city did such a great job of hosting Rugby World Cup 2011 matches and Ireland in 2010.''

If the All Blacks complete their forthcoming four-match Northern Hemisphere tour without defeat, the France series will see the side gunning for their all-time unbeaten record. The All Blacks are currently unbeaten in 17 matches, six short of their best mark set in between 1987-90.

2013 All Blacks domestic test match schedule:

June 8, France at Eden Park, Auckland
June 15, France at AMI Stadium, Christchurch
June 22, France at Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth
August 24, Australia at Westpac Stadium, Wellington
September 7 Argentina at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
September 14, South Africa at Eden Park, Auckland
October 19, Australia at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

- APNZ

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