Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

All Blacks: Napier wins in test agenda

McLean Park to host Argentina and Crusaders to take on England in midweek game.

The All Blacks' last loss at home was against the Springboks in Hamilton in 2009.
The All Blacks' last loss at home was against the Springboks in Hamilton in 2009.

The All Blacks' home test schedule for next year has been confirmed, with Napier to host a Rugby Championship fixture against Argentina in September.

It will be the first time McLean Park has hosted an All Blacks test since the encounter against Manu Samoa in 1996. It is understood the Napier City Council has agreed to underwrite costs of up to $250,000.

"We are really pleased to be taking test match rugby back to McLean Park which proved a great venue during Rugby World Cup 2011," said New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew.

"The city warmly welcomed France, Canada and Japan for two matches during the Cup and fans turned out in force so I am sure they will turn it on again for our Argentinian visitors next year."

While rugby supporters in Hawkes Bay will be pleased, their Christchurch counterparts might be less happy. AMI Stadium will not host a test next year, although it will host a midweek game between the Crusaders and England on June 17, Stuart Lancaster's team playing in Christchurch after the second test in Dunedin.

The NZRU said Christchurch was a confirmed host for a test in 2015 with the Canterbury Rugby Union confirming in a statement today that it will be against the Pumas.

Auckland hosts two tests, the All Blacks' opener against England on June 7, and what will be a hotly-anticipated Rugby Championship match against Australia on August 23.

Hamilton hosts the third test against England on June 21, with Wellington hosting a Rugby Championship test against South Africa on September 13, a fixture which is likely to be very popular given the two tests between the nations this year.

England are likely to tour New Zealand with some confidence following their good recent showing at Twickenham against the All Blacks. The test was in the balance until the final quarter when the All Blacks clicked up a gear and re-took the lead thanks to a Julian Savea try to win 30-22.

England will hope to break the All Blacks' winning streak which stands at 14 and an impressive 33 in home fixtures.

The All Blacks' last loss at home was against the Springboks in Hamilton in 2009.

"We are very excited to be hosting England next year," said Tew. "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 drawcard ...

"England, like France last year, were keen to add a mid-week match to their itinerary so it's great that we can provide them a high quality opponent in the Crusaders after the second test in Dunedin. Given the heritage shared by England and Canterbury, this is sure to be a very special night."

The All Blacks will begin their defence of the Rugby Championship against the Wallabies at ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Their final match is against South Africa at Ellis Park, in a repeat of this year's memorable test where the All Blacks won 38-27.

NZ v England schedule
Test 1: June 7 at Eden Park, Auckland
Test 2: June 14 at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Midweek game: June 17 Crusaders v England at AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Test 3: June 21 at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton

Rugby Championship in NZ
August 23: All Blacks v Australia at Eden Park, Auckland
September 6: All Blacks v Argentina at McLean Park, Napier
September 13: All Blacks v South Africa at Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Complete Rugby Championship schedule
August 16: Australia v All Blacks, ANZ Stadium, Sydney
August 17: South Africa v Argentina, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

August 23: All Blacks v Australia, Eden Park, Auckland
August 24: Argentina v South Africa, TBC.

September 6: All Blacks v Argentina, McLean Park, Napier
September 6: Australia v South Africa, Patersons Stadium, Perth

September 13: All Blacks v South Africa, Westpac Stadium, Wellington
September 13: Australia v Argentina, Skilled Park, Gold Coast

September 27 :South Africa v Australia, DHL Newlands, Cape Town
September 28:Argentina v All Blacks, TBC

October 4:Argentina v Australia, TBC,
October 5: South Africa v All Blacks, Ellis Park, Johannesburg

Bledisloe Cup III
October 18: Australia v All Blacks, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane


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