Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Boks have Four Nations date at Dunedin's indoor stadium

New Zealand will play the Springboks in Dunedin on September 15 next year. Photo / Getty Images
New Zealand will play the Springboks in Dunedin on September 15 next year. Photo / Getty Images

The All Blacks have a showdown next September against their traditional Springbok rivals in their debut under the roof of the new Dunedin stadium.

The rugby heavyweights square off in a massive season for those players who stay the distance for the expanded Super 15 series and are then elevated to the All Blacks for the test programme.

"To get a game which really stirs the historical aspect of rugby union, because this is probably the most fiercely competitive match in the calendar, fills us with a great deal of pride," stadium chief executive David Davies said.

Administrators announced the domestic test and expanded Four Nations championship yesterday with nine internationals shoehorned in and around the Super 15 with at least three more internationals to be played in Europe at the end of the year.

The new All Black coach and his panel will make their first selection in June, when the team open their international programme against Ireland.

They have three tests which dovetail into the Super 15 programme before it resumes for another three rounds and then the playoffs.

The All Black tests with Ireland are at Eden Park then the stadium announced yesterday in Christchurch before the sides relocate to Waikato Stadium.

That done, there is a week's rest before the birth of the expanded test series with Argentina joining New Zealand, Australia and South Africa in combat.

Eden Park gets a second test, while Wellington and Dunedin also host the major domestic internationals in the new format tournament.

The All Blacks and Wallabies begin the competition with successive duels in Sydney and Auckland before the All Blacks meet the Pumas in Wellington in round three.

Then the All Blacks head south to play for the first time in the covered stadium in Dunedin on September 15, before embarking on the overseas segment of the series.

"We felt the stadium held up pretty well during the World Cup," Davies said. "We hope the city comes together in the same way it did for the England games and, particularly the Ireland-Italy game and makes an event of it."

"I think tickets for the All Blacks-Springboks-which go on sale soon-will be a hot item."

A $20 million refit of Rugby League Park in Christchurch will allow 17,000 fans to watch the Crusaders, All Blacks and Canterbury rugby matches next year with the Phoenix also interested in a game and the code's under-20 World Cup expected there in 2015.

Prime Minister John Key announced the deal with the costs being picked up by the Government, with help from the Christchurch City Council and New Zealand Rugby Union.

Concerts and festival events are also being lined up for the venue, which may with temporary seating cater for up to 25,000.

Rugby's regular AMI Stadium home in Christchurch is badly damaged and closed as assessments continue about its future.

Plans for the Crusaders to meet the Melbourne Rebels in a pre-season February 18 match in Singapore remain uncertain with the match more likely to be played in Melbourne.

NEXT SEASON'S TEST ITINERARY

* All Blacks v Ireland, Eden Park, June 9.
* All Blacks v Ireland, Christchurch, June 16.
* All Blacks v Ireland Hamilton, June 23.
* All Blacks v Australia, Sydney, August 18.
* All Blacks v Australia, Eden Park, August 25.
* All Blacks v Argentina, Wellington September 8.
* All Blacks v South Africa, Dunedin, September 15.
* All Blacks v Argentina, Argentina, September 29.
* All Blacks v South Africa, South Africa, October 6.

- NZ Herald

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